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Title: The impact of the French Revolution on Scottish religious life and thought, with special reference to Thomas Chalmers, Robert Haldane and Neil Douglas
Author: Kirkland, W. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1951
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Scottish Evangelicalism proved inadequate, intellectually and ethically, before the strong tides of reaction at the close of the eighteenth century. It remained essentially a strong surge of feeling which could discompose men's minds and excite discontent with established ways, and which could inspire great benevolent and sacrificial ventures. But it failed to rise to the real challenge of the French Revolution. Narrow-mindedness, too much stress on individual conversion, and, at times, an almost cynical abandonment of the social and political struggle, prevented its leaders from giving Christian guidance where and when it was most needed. Its record in the struggle over slavery is good; its philanthropy is admirable, but in the long struggle for domestic reform,the Evangelical record, on the whole, is less commendable. The revolt against time-honoured institutions, and the rise of the lower, working classes, have confronted the Christian Churches with a very serious and difficult challenge. Conservative by its nature, institutional Christianity has usually been on the side of 'law and order' in the revolutionary upsurges which have taken place in Europe during the past two centuries. The contemporary revolution in Asia faces the ecumenical Church (and especially the American Churches) with problems and a challenge which are similar to those considered in the foregoing studies. Religious leaders have too often and too uncritically allied the imperatives of the Christian gospel to Nationalism, or to some form of social and political conformism. Again, the withdrawal strategy of Haldane is representative of a rather large segment of the Christian Church. This quietism may -- and often does -- take rise from a profound understanding of the real human situation, and from a sincere desire to maintain the purity and clarity of the Christian message. But such a position has become increasingly difficult. Neil Douglas was not a 'major' prophet in the history of the Church, or in Scottish Church History. If Chalmers tended to confuse the sanctions of the Christian gospel with Tory politics, Douglas was at times too eager to equate the 'cause of God' with the cause of 'the people.' But without such prophetic voices in periods of stress, the social witness of the Church would be pathetic indeed. Christian faith must not be conformed to the standards of this world; at the same time, the Christian message must be accessible to all, and relevant to the problems and the various needs of men in different social situations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available