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The role of the laity in the Church of England, c. 1850-1885

The role of the laity in the Church of England, c. 1850-1885

Michael John Darcy Roberts

Doctor of Philosophy, Faculty of Modern History, Jesus College, Oxford University, (1974)

Abstract

There has been a great deal of research into Victorian religious ideas and organisations carried out in recent years. However, the research tends to focus on areas in which evidence is most manageable – that is, on denominations and sects which have a relatively limited and well-defined membership, or, if the Church of Ireland is concerned, on the activities of the professional full-time representatives of the Church, the clergy. In choosing to study the role of the laity in the Church of England, I have attempted to extend the circle of research a little further from the centre towards which it ordinarily tends to contract.





The notion of a lay role is, however, at its most vague and ambiguous in the Church of England. The vagueness has always been apparent and is the unavoidable characteristic of a religious organisation which has an historical claim to be considered a ‘National Church’. But the ambiguity, to a great extent, is a nineteenth-century development, the result of the gradual separation of Church from State and of religious standards of belief and behaviour from secular ones.

Click here to read this article from Oxford University


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