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Title: W.E. Sangster - Herald of Holiness A Critical Analysis of the Doctrines of Sanctification and Perfection In the Thought of W. E. Sangster
Author: Cheatle, Andrew John
ISNI:       0000 0001 3530 8089
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
This study focuses uniquely on one of twentieth-century Methodism's most famous and influential figures: the Rev. Dr. William Edwin Sangster (1900-1960). Sangster was and is primarily remembered as a preacher; indeed he was deemed 'the Prince of Preachers' following his untimely death in May 1960 (A1ethodist Recorder, 2 June 1962, p.4). Sangster is probably the only preacher within living memory to hit the headlines of the national newspapers due to the content of a sermon (January 1953). During the period 1940-1960 Sangster was one of the most well known religious personalities both in his own country and the USA, famous not only for his oratory but also his numerous publications. It is somewhat surprising, therefore, that so little scholarly attention has been paid to this central figure of Methodism. This thesis in part fills that gap. Therefore, the first major contribution this study will make is to bring together and collate, for the first time, a vast archive ·of Sangster's work, including many forms of published material; books, articles, letters and also a number of recordings. At present the painstaking research and collecting process of eighteen years, comprises all Sangster's books and pamphlets, nearly four hundred published articles, twenty-four letters and twenty tape recordings, a record and a film. It is this collection, which contains substantial but previously untapped primary material, that forms the basis of the theological analysis within this thesis. Over and above this in itself significant contribution to research, this study will address critically and comprehensively the thought of W.E. Sangster, and in particular his understanding of the Wesleyan doctrine of Christian holiness. This has never been done before. Throughout his ministry Sangster's main theological agenda was to understand and critically restate John Wesley's views concerning Christian holiness, which was arguably Methodism's most distinctive doctrinal contribution to 'the history of Christian theology. As is shown here Sangster felt that John Wesley's pre-scientific philosophical assumptions were primarily responsible for making his views untenable to the modern mind. It is also argued that Sangster should be considered as a forerunner of modern Wesleyan studies. Whereas many of the modern studies adopt a modified 'humanistic' approach, searching for Wesley's sources and influences in order to restate (state again) what Wesley actually did say, Sangster attempted to discover the assumptions Wesley brought to his theology and to uncover the logical framework upon which his conclusions were based with a view of ascertaining whether Wesley's doctrine of Christian holiness could be restated (stated anew) based on modern philosophical assumptions. This thesis contains six chapters, a bibliography (with unique primary material) and a collated and annotated appendix of Sangster's articles and letters. Chapter one serves as a brief introduction to Sangster's life and work and provides an important survey of Sangster's literary contribution. The chapter adds to, and departs from, Paul Sangster's biography at numerous points and focuses in particular on the theological development of Sangster's thought as seen in his writings. This issue lay outside Paul Sangster's agenda. Chapter two analyses the main formative influences on Sangster's thinking and in particular the significance of the Oxford Group in the period 1930-1937, leading to his personal re-discovery of the doctrine of assurance, which instigated his study into the Wesleyan doctrine of holiness. It is suggested that this chapter contains significant new insights that help us better to understand Sangster's development. Chapter three examines the theological landscape of the Wesleyan .doctrine of holiness from 1838-1938, the hundred year period before Sangster embarked on his study and which therefore sets the context for Sangster's own work. Three major interpretations were identifiable: the IV Classical Wesleyan, the PentecostallExperiential and the Critical view. These formed the immediate theological background of his own survey. Chapter four examines the change in theological viewpoint evident in Sangster's writings from 1939 onwards, in which he begins to employ modern scientific thought in his theology, a distinct contrast to his earlier devotional and pastoral emphasis. As we shall see this leads Sangster to depart from John Wesley on significant points that were essential to John Wesley's understanding of holiness. Again, it is suggested that this chapter provides significant new material and hence makes a major contribution to knowledge. Chapter five traces Sangster's understanding of the human condition - the doctrines of grace and sin; key components in his understanding of holiness, with the doctrine of sin being a major point of disagreement with Wesley. Chapter six analyses Sangster's main writings on the doctrine of holiness, identifying developments of thought. Sangster's more modern views of the after-life, sin, and psychology led to a restated or reshaped understanding of Christian holiness, this is then subject to ·critical analysis. The thesis concludes with a statement of Sangster's contribution to the Wesleyan holiness tradithm. Therefore, this thesis claims uniqueness and originality not only in the scope and comprehensiveness of source material but also in its agenda of presenting critically for the first time the theological essence of Sangster's life-long quest to understand and restate the Wesleyan doctrine of holiness. Supplied by The British Library - 'The world's knowledge'
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: University of Liverpool, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.491108  DOI: Not available
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