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Title: Christian Socialism as a political ideology
Author: Williams, A. A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 2781
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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A study of Christian Socialism is valuable at a time in which Christianity has become, in the minds of many, intrinsically associated with right-wing politics and conservatism. In addition, recent publications on this topic have focused on history and biography rather than the details of what Christian Socialists actually believed. This thesis considers that topic under three main headings: (1) ‘The Basis of Christian Socialism’; (2) ‘The Route to Christian Socialism’; (3) ‘Christian Socialist Society’. Firstly, Christian Socialists based their socialism mainly on the Bible, church teaching and the sacraments, to a far greater extent than any other sources. Secondly, Christian Socialists called for a revolution but were committed to democratic methods, suggesting a synthesis between revolutionary and democratic socialism. In practice this can be sketched out as a three-stage process: first, persuading people of the deficiencies of capitalism and the need for socialism; second, the election of a Labour government / the persuasion of other politicians to adopt socialism; third, the establishment of socialism, brought about by a socialist government and population. Thirdly, Christian Socialists sought to create a society of co-operation and collectivism, equality, democracy and peace. Their vision of this society was for the most part highly utopian, due to the belief that the new society would be the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. There are several criticisms of Christian Socialism which have been made, both from a Christian and from a socialist perspective, over, for example, the viability of the Christian Socialist methodology and the validity of the Christian Socialist use of Scripture and church teaching. It will be concluded that the concept at the core of Christian Socialism is brotherhood, based on the idea of the universal Fatherhood of God, and that other key concepts – co-operation, equality and democracy – are derived from this. In seeking co-operation, equality and democracy Christian Socialism is not necessarily distinct from other forms of socialism, but it is distinct in drawing upon Christian theology as a basis for these concepts as well as the language to describe a future socialist society.
Supervisor: Hickson, K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral