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Reform, Reconstruction, Reaction: The Social Vision of Scottish Presbyterianism c. 1830-c. 1930

  • S. J. Brown (a1)

Extract

In 1929, after many years of consultation and compromise, the two largest Presbyterian denominations in Scotland — the established Church of Scotland and the voluntary United Free Church — were united. The Union was an impressive achievement, marking the end of the bitter divisions of eighteenth and nineteenth century Scottish Presbyterianism. In particular, it represented the healing of the wounds of the Disruption of 1843, when the national Church of Scotland had been broken up as a result of conflicts between Church and State over patronage and the Church's spiritual independence. With the Union of 1929, the leaders of Scottish Presbyterianism, and especially John White of Glasgow's Barony Church, succeeded not only in uniting the major Presbyterian Churches, but also in establishing a cooperative relationship between Church and State. The Church of Scotland, itseemed, was again in a position to assert national leadership.

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1 Cheyne, A. C., The Transforming of the Kirh Victorian Scotland's Religious Revolution (Edinburgh, 1983), 110156; Smith, D. C., Passive Obedience and Prophetic Protest: Social Criticism in the Scottish Church 1830–1945 (New York, 1987), passim.; Smout, T. C., A Century of the Scottish People 1830–1950 (Glasgow, 1986), 181208; Brown, C., The Social History of Religion in Scotland since 1730 (London, 1987), 169208; see also Withrington's, D. J. seminal article. ‘The Churches in Scotland, c. 1870-C.1900: Towards a New Social Conscience?Records of the Scottish Church History Society, xix (1977), 155168.

2 Brown, S. J., Thomas Chalmers and the Godly Commonwealth in Scotland (Oxford, 1982), esp. 144151, 220–50.

3 Ibid., 250–81, 296–337.

4 Brown, , Social History of Relinon in Scotland, op. cit, 6077, 135–52; Blaikie, W.G., An Autobiography: Recollections of a Busy Life, 2nd edn., (London, 1901), 111.

5 Buchanan, R., The Waste Places of our Great Cities; or the Voice of God in the Cholera (Glasgow, 1853), 1438; Guthrie, T., The Poor, and How to Help Them (London, 1868), 611; Ross, J. M. E., William Ross of Cowcaddens (London, 1905), 103110; Enright, W. G., ‘Preaching and Theology in the Nineteenth Century’ (Edinburgh Univ. Ph.D. Thesis, 1968), 212224; Caird, J., Religion in Common Life (Edinburgh, 1855), 7; Pirie, J., The Lapsed: With Suggestions as to the Best Means of Raising Them (Edinburgh, 1871), 21.

6 Caird, Religion in Common Life, op. cit., 9. For the relationship of nineteenth century Evangelicalism and political economy, see especially Hilton, B., The Age of Atonement: The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought 17851865 (Oxford, 1988), esp. 3670, and Waterman, A. M. C., ‘The Ideological Alliance of Political Economy and Christian IdeologyJournal ofEcclesiastical History, 34 (1983), 231244.

7 Brown, , Thomas Chalmers, op. cit, esp. 375379; Walker, N. L., Robert Buchanan (London, 1877), 300338; Cheyne, , The Transforming of the Kirk, op. cit., 112118; Macleod, N., How Can We Best Relieve our Deserving Poor? (London, 1867); Pirie, J., The Lapsed, op. cit., 21; Bonar, A. R., The Church of Scotland's Duty to the Masses (Edinburgh, 1857).

8 Macleod, How Can We Best Relieve Our Deserving Poor? op.cit

9 Ross, , William Ross, op. cit, 104187.

10 Jones, P. d'A., The Christian Socialist Revival 1877–1914 (Princeton, 1968); Norman, E. R., The Victorian Christian Socialists (Cambridge, 1987), esp. 113; Wagner, D. O., The Church of England and Social Reform Since 1854 (New York, 1930), esp. chh. 5–6; Inglis, K. S., Churches and the Working Class in Victorian England (London, 1963), 269282.

11 Conway, R. St. John and Glasier, J. Bruce, The Religion of Socialism: Two Aspects (Glasgow, [1890]), 1016; Yeo, S., ‘A New Life: the Religion of Socialism in Britain’, History Workshop, no. 4 (Autumn, 1977), 556.

12 Brown, , Social History of Religion in Scotland, op. cit, 191.

13 Macleod, D., Non-Church-Going and the Housing of the Poor (Edinburgh, 1888), 13.

14 Reports on the Schemes of the Church of Scotland, 1896, pp. 808, 814.

15 See, for example. Caird, J., ‘Corporate Immortality’, in Scoth Sermons (Edinburgh, 1880), 117; Gibb, C. M., ‘Attitudes of the Prophets to Social Questions’, Forward (Glasgow), 14 August 1909; Smith, , Passive Obedience and Prophetic Protest, op. cit., 254256; Enright, , ‘Preaching and Theology in the Nineteenth Century’, op. cit., 355385.

16 Cited in Smith, Passive Obedience and Prophetic Protest, op. cit., 272.

17 Ross, D. M., ‘Christianity and Socialism’, in Bruce, A. B., op. cit., Christianity and Social Life A Course of Lectures (Edinburgh, 1885), 84; Matheson, A. Scott, The Church and Social Problems (Edinburgh, 1893), 58.

18 Ibid. 97.

19 D. M. Ross, ‘Christianity and Socialism’, op. cit. 76; Lang, J. Marshall, The Church and Its Social Mission (Edinburgh, 1902), 343.

21 Smith, J. M., ‘Commonsense Thought and Working class Consciousness: Some Aspects of the Glasgow and Liverpool Labour Movements in the Early Years of the Twentieth Century’ (Edinburgh Univ. Ph.D. Thesis, 1981), 320330; Forward (Glasgow), 23rd May, 4th July, 12th, 19th September, 3rd, 17th, 31st October, 7th, 14th, 21st November 1908.

21 Wilson, D., ‘Conditions of Employment’, in The Churches' Task in Social Reform: Report of the United Free Church Congress on Social Problems (Edinburgh, 1912), 2229; C. M. Gibb, ‘Unemployment: A Study for Bible Readers’, Forward, 24th July, 7th August 1909.

22 Muir, W., Christianity and Labour (London, 1910), 33, 265.

23 Sjolinder, R., Presbyterian Reunion in Scotland 1907–1921: Its Background and Development (Stockholm, 1962), 83162; Muir, A., John White (London, 1958), 83154. Fleming, J. R., The Story of Church Union in Scotland (London, 1929), 4162.

24 Smith, M., Passive Obedience and Prophetic Protest, op. ciL., 340352.

25 Ibid., 353–6; Forward, 5, 19th February 1910, 15th, 22nd April, 10th June, 18th November, 2nd, 23rd December 1911, 4th May 1912.

26 See, for example, Forward, 3rd October, 7th November 1908, 6th, 20th, 27th February, 13th March, 10th, 24th July, 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th August, 4th, 18th September 1909, 2nd, 9th April, 7th May 1910, 21st, 28th December 1912.

27 MacCallum, M., Religion as Social justice (Glasgow, 1915), 133, 135.

28 Forward, 13th August 1910.

29 Forward, 241h, 31st December 1910, 26th April 1913; Reid, H. M. B., The Cleavage in the Scottish Church (Glasgow, 1914), esp. 79.

30 Matheson, P. C., ‘Scottish War Sermons 1914–1919’, Records of the Scottish Church History Society, xvii (1972), 203213.

31 [T.Johnston], ‘Connolly and the Dublin Insurrection’, Forward, 6th May 1916; [Anon.], ‘Who Fears to Speak of Easter Week?’ Scottish Review, 39 (Autumn, 1916), 354–74.

32 Reports on the Schemes of the Church of Scotland, 1917, pp. 726, 741, 746, 753.

33 Paterson, W. P. and Watson, D. (eds.), Social Evils and Problems (Edinburgh, 1918), 2627.

34 Reports on the Schemes of the Church of Scolland, 1918, pp. 619–25; Ibid., 1919, pp. 631–5.

35 Reports on the Schemes of the Church of Scotland 1918, p. 629.

36 Ibid., 1919, pp. 631–5; Smith, Passive Obedience and Prophetic Protest, op. cit., 360.

37 Watson, D., The Social Expression of Christianity (London, 1919), 177.

38 Reports on the Schemes of the Church of Scotland, 1919, pp. 645, 660; Muir, John White, op. cit. 82–3; Proceedings and Debates of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland, 1919, pp. 244–7.

39 Paterson, W. P., Recent History and the Call to Brotherhood: Address Delivered at the Close of the General Assembly, May 29, 1919 (Edinburgh, 1919), 9, 25, 32.

40 Tawney, R. H., ‘The Abolition of Economic Controls, 1918–1921’, Economic History Review, xiii (1943), 130; Abrams, P., ‘The Failure of Social Reform, 1918–1920’, Past and Present, 24 (1963), 4364; Morgan, K. O., Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918–1922 (Oxford, 1979), 88105.

41 Tawney, ‘The Abolition of Economic Controls’, op. cit., 14.

42 The Diaries of W. P. Paterson, ed., Rawlins, C. L. (Edinburgh, 1987), 266; Reports on the Schemes of the Church of Scotland, 1920, p. 525.

43 Harvie, C., No God and Precious Few Heroes: Scotland 1914–1980 (London, 1981), 3948.

44 Proceedings and Debates of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland, 1921, pp. 150–59; Reith, G. M., Reminiscences of the United Free Church General Assembly (1900–1929) (Edinburgh, 1933), 235.

45 Proceedings and Debates of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland, 1922, pp. 314–21.

46 Sjolinder, Presbyterian Reunion in Scotland, op. cit., 309–58; Muir, John White, op. cit., 198–213.

47 Muir, John While, op. cit., 186.

48 For example, White's speech on Union, Glasgow Herald, 26th May 1928.

49 Smout, Century of the Scottish People, op. cit., 271.

50 Morgan, Consensus and Disunity, op. at., 163; Harvie, C., Scotland and Nationalism (London, 1977), 43; Smout, Century of the Scottish People, op. cit., 270–1.

51 Reports on the Schemes of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1923, p. 750–762, 751.

52 Ibid., 756, 758.

53 Ibid., 761.

54 Ibid., 756.

55 Glasgow Herald, 30th May 1923.

56 Reports to the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland, 1924, no.xxiii, pp. 11–12

57 Reports on the Schemes of the Church of Scotland 1926, p. 619.

58 Reports on the Schema of the Church of Scotland, 1927, p. 1220.

59 Glasgow Herald, 26th March, 15th April 1929.

60 Scotsman, 19th May 1926; Glasgow Herald, 19th May 1926.

61 See, for example, the letter from the Edinburgh Labour MP, T. Drummond Shiels, in the Scotsman, 18th May 1926.

62 In the second novel of his A Scots Quair trilogy, Cloud Howe (1933), Lewis Grassic Gibbon captures the sense of disillusionment with the national Church in post-war Scottish society. See also Gibbon, Lewis Grassic and MacDiarmid, Hugh, Scottish Scene, or The Intelligent Man's Guide to Albyn (London, 1934), 313327.

63 Barr, J., The United Free Church of Scotland (London, 1934), 109110, 173–4, 218, 284.

64 For a discussion of some long-term effects of this emphasis on ecclesiastical structures and authority, see Harvey, J., Bridging the Gap: Has the Church Failed the Poor? (Edinburgh, 1987), 1138.

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Reform, Reconstruction, Reaction: The Social Vision of Scottish Presbyterianism c. 1830-c. 1930

  • S. J. Brown (a1)

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