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Passive Obedience and Prophetic Protest

Social Criticism in the Scottish Church 1830-1945


Donald C. Smith

Although the failure of prophetic social criticism in the Scottish Church throughout most of the last century is relatively well-known, little attempt has ever been made to discover, through a critical study of contemporary sources which reflect the Church's social thought, the basic factors--both sociological and theological--which that caused this tragic failure. This study seeks to ascertain what those factors were; how they militated against the exercise of any genuine social criticism; and how their modification or removal toward the end of the century made possible a reawakening of such criticism in the twentieth century. In the course of this study, special attention is given to the Church's attitude towards events such as the growth of democracy, the Highland clearances, child labour in factories and mines, the rise of socialism and the trade unions, and to the question of the extent to which the failure of prophetic criticism was responsible for the widespread alienation of the working classes from the Churches.
Contents: The Church and the Social Order prior to the Industrial Revolution - The Tragic Failure of Social Criticism: 1830-1850 - The Prophetic Failure Continues: 1850-1880 - The Gradual Reawakening of Social Criticism: 1880-1945.