Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Episcopalianism in Nineteenth-Century Scotland: Religious Responses to a Modernising Society

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Episcopalianism in Nineteenth-Century Scotland: Religious Responses to a Modernising Society

Article excerpt

ROWAN STRONG. Episcopalianism in Nineteenth-Century Scotland: Religious Responses to a Modernising Society. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp. xi + 347, tables, figures, bibliography, index. £50.00.

This study by Rowan Strong, senior lecturer in church history at Murdoch University, Australia, is an important contribution to studies of the Scottish Episcopal Church. As the subtitle indicates, the book concentrates on the challenges posed for Scottish Episcopalianism by a modernizing society. The onset of urbanization, industrialization, large scale migration, and rural change in the nineteenth century demanded a response from the Scottish Episcopal Church, which was already struggling with a legacy of penal restrictions and decline following association with the Jacobite rebellions of the eighteenth century. Respond it did, sometimes proactively, sometimes reactively, but Strong shows that the results were confusing, and at times seemingly contradictory.

The author is to be commended for penetrating beyond the hierarchical structures and leading personalities to explore the belief and practice of lay members of the religious sub-culture of Episcopalianism. What emerges is, in fact, a number of different sub-cultures. In two chapters the author considers the areas where Episcopalianism was traditionally at its strongest, the Highlands and North-West Scotland, and argues that the pressures of the modern Anglicizing world weakened traditional values and customs. The inability of the Scottish Episcopal Church to recognize the social and cultural significance of Gaelic led to an insufficient supply of Gaelic-speaking clergy. The diversity of Episcopalian practice and spirituality in different contexts is well observed in further studies of the North-East crofters, farmers, and fisherfolk.

The necessity of distinguishing between the historic high-church roots of Episcopalianism and anglo-catholicism is asserted by Strong, although the latter gained significant ground in Scotland during the nineteenth century. …

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