Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760

Article excerpt

COLIN PODMORE. The Moravian Church in England, 1728-1760. Oxford Historical Monographs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. Pp. xv + 332, bibliography, index. $85.00.

This monograph's unassuming title does not adequately convey the importance or scope of Colin Podmore's research, for this is really one of the finest works of English ecclesiastical history written in the last decade. Based on a wide range of archival material in England, Wales, Germany, and the United States, Podmore's study is lucidly written, thoughtfully organized, and convincingly argued throughout; and it has much which is important to say about a wide variety of aspects of English religious life in the first half of the eighteenth century. Not only does Podmore analyze the origins, pace, and impact of the Evangelical revival and Methodism in England, but readers of this journal will be particularly interested in what he has to say about Hanoverian church-state relations, about the nature of high churchmanship between the Atterbury Plot and the American Revolution, and about relations between the Church of England and continental Protestant churches. Indeed, something that should help make this an enduring work is that its value rests not on pursuing a reductive, overarching thesis that will likely be outdated in the light of future research.

The United Brethren from Moravia were a religious group descended from the Unitas Fratrum, organized in the 1720s in Upper Lusatia, and led by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, who pressed a variety of ecumenical schemes. The establishment of the Fetter Lane Society in 1738, a decade after their arrival in London, saw the Moravians become "involved in English religious life for the first time, and their impact was dramatic." They not only helped inject continental religious renewal into England, but John Wesley's experience at a Moravian lovefeast at Fetter Lane in January 1739 was "the turning-point at which the Revival's focus moved from devotional revitalization in London to evangelism throughout England." Eventually, though, Wesley came to view the Moravians as antinomians and broke with them in the mid-1740s. This pattern of initial acceptance and later rejection was also mirrored among many other leaders of Methodism and the evangelical revival.

At first glance, the Moravians seemed to have fared better in their relations with the established Church of England. …

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