Evangelicalism in the Anglican Church in nineteenth-century Newfoundland

Russell, Heather Rose (2005) Evangelicalism in the Anglican Church in nineteenth-century Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Evangelicalism, a Protestant movement whose beginnings can be traced to eighteenth-century Great Britain, had also a vital presence in Newfoundland from 1819 to 1844. This thesis studies the three main Newfoundland-based Church of England Evangelicals, Aubrey George Spencer, Thomas Finch Hobday Bridge, and Robert Traill Spence Lowell. During this period, Newfoundland was not a diocese of its own, but part of the larger diocese of Nova Scotia until 1839 when Newfoundland and Bermuda became a separate diocese with Spencer as bishop. -- The distinguishing hallmarks of Evangelicals, in comparison to other religious groups, have been defined by David W. Bebbington. The thesis, therefore, seeks to use Bebbington' s characteristics to determine the Evangelicalism of Spencer, Bridge, and Lowell. Bebbington’s four characteristics are: the urgent need to accept Christ as one's personal saviour and experience a change of life and heart (conversionism), tireless ministerial, educational, and benevolent activities, including an active opposition to Roman Catholics and other religious competitors (activism), a deep reverence for Scripture as the supreme religious and ethical norm (biblicism), and belief in Christ's death as the central salvific event to secure salvation (crucicentrism). -- Chapter One begins by examining the state-of-the-question. This is followed by a brief explanation of each of Bebbington' s characteristics, not only as Bebbington himself defines them globally for all Evangelicals, but also as each one affected the Newfoundland context. -- Chapter Two examines Missionary Societies, an integral element of the conversion-oriented and educational activities of Evangelicals. While such societies as the Church Missionary Society and the American Home Missionary Society are briefly explored, a more detailed examination is allotted to merchant Samuel Codner's Newfoundland School Society, not only because of Spencer's and Bridge's involvement, but also because the society represented Great Britain's first successful attempt to educate the poor children of Newfoundland. -- Chapters Three through Five, which represent the main portion of the thesis, deal with Spencer, Bridge, and Lowell. Each chapter begins with a short biography, followed by an exploration of their work and thought, employing Bebbington' s characteristics as a guide. Included in this examination are ecclesiastical, educational, and benevolent activities that encompass not only their missionary labours, church work, educational work, and societal involvement, but also their active opposition of Roman Catholics and Tractarians. Their thinking about conversion, the value of Scripture, and the issue of Christ's death are also included. Throughout, sermons, treatises, letters, novels, and other writings are used as sources. Each chapter concludes with a discussion to what extent these men were Evangelicals. -- Chapter Six sums up the major findings. The conclusion of this thesis is that these men were all Evangelicals, but each one varied as to his religious or ethical emphases. Lowell, for example, did not explicitly promote conversionism and its doctrine of assurance, but was all the more virulently opposed to Catholicism. Also, Spencer and Lowell championed the Bible as a means of private devotion, whereas Bridge did not. -- The demise of Church of England Evangelicalism in nineteenth-century Newfoundland began with Bishop Spencer's departure for Jamaica and his replacement by the Tractarian Bishop Feild. Hence, the religious climate in nineteenth-century Newfoundland shifted away from Evangelicalism, although it was never totally extinguished. Where applicable throughout the main body of the thesis, Feild's views are compared to those of Spencer, Bridge, and Lowell.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11369
Item ID: 11369
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 170-182.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: 2005
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Anglicans--Newfoundland and Labrador--History--19th century; Evangelicalism--Newfoundland and Labrador--History--19th century.

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