Christianity Through the Ages by Kenneth Scott Latourette
Richard Heard, M.A., M.B.E., M.C., was a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge and University lecturer in Divinity at Cambridge (1950). Published by Harper & Row, New York, 1965. This material was prepared for Religion-Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
Chapter 10: The Nineteenth Century: Mounting Western Domination, with Economic, Intellectual, and Social Revolutions, A.D. 1815-1914
The nineteenth century, beginning in 1815 with the close of the Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon and terminated in 1914 by the outbreak of World War I, saw the heyday of Western imperialism and colonialism. One reason was the mounting industrialism, the technological inventions, and the associated intellectual revolution which gave Westerners the mastery of much of the world’s natural resources. Another was the fact that only two major wars -- the Civil War in the United States (1861-1865) and the Taiping Rebellion in China (1848-1865) --occurred, and these were not in Europe. Now and again wars were fought in Europe -- the chief being the Crimean War (1854-1856) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) -- but they did not draw all Europe into their vortex, as several earlier ones had done, and they were relatively brief. Here and there conflicts arose from imperial expansion, as in the Boer War (1899-1902) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) But only these two seriously challenged a European power. They were late in the century and in retrospect were seen to be the twilight of an era. By the year 1914 European peoples had made themselves the rulers of most of the planet.
The mastery of the planet was accomplished in part by gigantic migrations -- from Europe to the Americas, in North America by the westward-moving population in Canada and the United States, in Australia and New Zealand by settlers from the British Isles, in South Africa by the north-eastward trek of the Afrikaners (or Boers, as they were often called), and in Siberia by the continued eastward expansion of the Russians. The mastery was also the result of comparatively peaceful occupation, as in the islands of the Pacific, Egypt, and Madagascar; by open conquest, as by the British in India, Burma, and Ceylon, by the French in North Africa and Indo-China, by the Russians in the trans-Caspian regions in Central Asia, and by the Dutch in Indonesia; and by exploration, as in Africa south of the Sahara, followed by peaceful partition, completed in the main in the 1880’s.
By the year 1914 political independence from Western peoples was preserved only in the shrinking, badly weakened Turkish Empire; in Arabia, where encroachments had begun in Aden; in Ethiopia, with a precarious insecurity in its mountain fastnesses; in Persia, partly partitioned in Russian and British spheres of influence; in Afghanistan, a mountain buffer state between the British and Russian empires; in Thailand (Siam as it was then known), relatively safe because the British and the French, eyeing each other from Burma and Indo-China, would not permit either to annex it; in China, technically independent, but in fact occupied by Western powers who fixed the tariffs and whose citizens had extraterritorial status, and partially carved into spheres of influence; and in Japan, and from the 1850’s into 1890’s the independence of Japan had been compromised by the extraterritorial privileges of Westerners and the lack of full tariff autonomy.
Political domination was accompanied by a growing economic mastery as the European peoples sought raw materials and markets for the factories spawned by the Industrial Revolution.
In colonialism and imperialism Great Britain was outstanding. Politically, by the end of the nineteenth century Great Britain had erected an empire on which, so the boast was made, the sun never set. It embraced portions of each of the continents, some large and some small, and included many islands. The Russian Empire was next, with its grasp on Northern and Central Asia. By its extension across North America the United States, predominantly British in cultural tradition and in the ancestry of its citizens, was third in geographic area. Starting almost afresh after their losses in the eighteenth century, the French were fourth.
In economic imperialism Great Britain led by an ample margin. The British navy controlled the seas and the British merchant marine and British commerce were everywhere. Not until the eve of 1914 were the British seriously challenged. British predominance was due partly to the fact that Great Britain was the pioneer in the Industrial Revolution and for a time monopolized the machines through which the revolution was accomplished. British economic superiority was also an aftermath of the defeat of Napoleon, for that had been achieved largely through British mastery of the seas and through the wealth which "the nation of shop-keepers," as the English were derisively called, had accumulated by commerce, both in pre-industrial and in industrial years.
Through the colonialism and imperialism of European peoples the cultures of non-Europeans were here and there beginning to display the profound changes which in the twentieth century would quickly swell to major and often traumatic proportions. Those changes resulted from the impact of a civilization itself in revolution. By the close of the nineteenth century the revolution in Western civilization was mounting. In the twentieth century it, too, was rapidly to attain much larger dimensions.
The revolution in Western civilization -- it had begun at least as far back as the Renaissance and had shaken much of Europe in the last decades of the eighteenth and the opening decades of the nineteenth century -- had several aspects. Each aspect increased in the ten decades between 1815 and 1914.
Politically the American and French revolutions were an introduction to movements towards democracy which undermined the inherited monarchical structures and substituted for them legislative and administrative institutions chosen by popular suffrage. For a time after 1815 the elements which had subdued Napoleon attempted to turn the clock back and to restore political Europe as it had been in 1789. But the forces which had sent Louis XVI and his Queen to the guillotine and had introduced the first French republic could not be suppressed. In 1830 they broke out in France and had repercussions elsewhere. In 1848 they exploded much more violently, again first in France, where they issued in the Second Republic, soon followed by the Second Empire. In other lands the reverberations shook but did not completely overthrow the existing order.
The "liberal" political movements were closely associated with a rising tide of nationalism. Nationalism, as the nineteenth and twentieth centuries knew it, was of recent and Western origin. It had been quickened by the French Revolution and further roused through resistance to Napoleon. In the revolutionary year of 1830 it was largely responsible for the creation of an independent Belgium. In 1848 it appeared for a time to be uniting Germany. It contributed to the unification of Italy, finally achieved in 1870 through a "liberal" monarchy. It was a factor in the emergence of Greece, Serbia, Rumania, and Bulgaria from the decaying Ottoman Empire. In 1870 it found expression in the proclamation of the German Empire -- with the defeat and collapse of the Second Empire in France and the coming of the Third Republic of that country.
The Industrial Revolution spread from Great Britain to the Continent of Europe and the United States. It was made possible by technological inventions -- the application of power (water and steam) to machines, at first in textiles and soon to mining, metals, and many manufactures; the steam-boat; the steam railway; the electric telegraph and cable; electric lights; the telephone; the electric railway; and on the eve of 1914 the automobile, the beginnings of "wireless telegraphy," and the first airplanes. The Industrial Revolution brought new urban centers and the rapid growth of existing cities. The technological inventions were furthered by developments in science and man’s rapidly expanding knowledge of the physical universe. These in turn were associated with intellectual movements and a temper of mind which magnified the "scientific" approach making that knowledge obtainable.
As in the eighteenth century, many aspects of the revolution appeared first in Great Britain, where an extreme form of Protestantism was potent. That was true of the Industrial Revolution, the early technological inventions, many of the intellectual currents, and much of democracy. To what extent, it at all, radical Protestantism was responsible would be impossible to determine.
The Challenge to Christianity
The mounting revolution challenged Christianity. It had its origin and its radiating center in Western European peoples, among whom it had had the nearest approach over a longer time to relatively unhampered freedom in molding an emerging civilization than had occurred anywhere else on the planet. As we have seen, beginning in the eighth century advancing Islam had reduced Christians in Western Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean to dwindling minorities. Among the "barbarians" who dominated Western Europe and whose inherited cultures were disintegrating in their contact with Greco-Roman civilization, Christianity, from the fifth century onward an integral part of that civilization, had the opportunity to shape the ideals and the emerging patterns of life. Long before the nineteenth century these peoples had become ostensibly Christian. That the official faith had made a deeper impress on them than it had on the Greco-Roman world before their irruption into that world is clear. That it was far from bringing them even to an approximation to the standards set forth in the New Testament is also obvious. In the nineteenth century and still more in the twentieth century, the revolution reshaping these peoples threatened the existence of the religion which had become identified with them. In this new revolution could European civilization, now in a state of flux, more nearly than previously approach the ideals presented in the Gospel? Could Christianity be effective in the impact of that civilization upon the rest of mankind? Or, weakened by the forces it had helped to evoke, would it wane and eventually disappear?
That Christianity was challenged is undebatable. The challenge was partly directed to the institutions with which Christianity had been closely associated, and the churches seemed inextricably bound to the form of society which was being openly attacked or which was being eroded. In seeking to replace absolute monarchy with "democracy," or at least to "liberalize" it, the Church was attacked as a support of the existing order. Anti-clericalism was rife, especially in lands in Europe and the Americas where the Roman Catholic form of the faith was the prevailing representative of Christianity, but also where Protestant churches were subject to the State, notably in Germany and Scandinavia. In Italy the Papal States were an obstacle to the nationalistic demand for political unification.
The Industrial Revolution was giving rise to a new social structure. In place of the prevailingly rural economy to which, through the parish system, the Church had adapted itself, mining and manufacturing towns were rapidly emerging and the populations of existing cities were mounting and were outgrowing or making anachronistic the ecclesiastical structures of earlier days. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to a ruthless exploitation of labor. Long working hours, poverty accentuated by low wages, wretched housing, periodic unemployment, the menace to health and physical safety, intolerable conditions in crowded jails and prisons, and the deterioration of morals in festering slums evoked angry assaults on the system of which they were a feature and on the failure of the Church to remedy them. The various forms of socialism that arose dismissed Christianity as irrelevant and the Church as an enemy supporting the existing order. What became the most widely spread form of socialism was formulated by Karl Marx (1818-1883) aided by Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). Both were reared as Protestants but attacked all religion as "the opiate of the people" and intellectually untenable in a scientific age. Their Communist Manifesto was issued in the revolutionary year of 1848, and the first volume of Das Kapital (Capital), which was to be the accepted formulation of Communism, was published in 1867.
The challenge to Christianity was partly on intellectual grounds. The account of creation as given in the Bible was considered discredited by the theory of evolution as first set forth by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in On the Origin of Species (1859) and popularized by Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). Associated with the theory of evolution was the work of geologists, of whom a notable pioneer was Charles Lyell (1797-1875). Lyell’s Principles of Geology was first published in 1830 and was issued in successively revised editions, the last in 1872. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), reared in Evangelical surroundings, popularized evolution and applied it to society and religion. Although he rejected atheism and pantheism, he would not accept theism and regarded himself as an agnostic.
Widely read intellectuals openly attacked Christianity. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) sought to substitute for it a new religion, Positivism. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), a thoroughgoing pessimist, denied personal immortality and regarded happiness as an illusion. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) maintained that God has no objective reality but is a projection of what man conceives to be his needs. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900), descended from Protestant clergymen, declared that God does not exist and that Christianity fostered a slave mentality and the mental and physical deterioration of Europeans. The egotistical musician Richard Wilhelm Wagner (1813-1883) held that Christianity had effected a Jewish corruption of the German spirit and sought to exalt pre-Christian German paganism. Although he retained a belief in God Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) abandoned the Christian faith. The Utilitarians, founded by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), were anti-clerical and sought to discredit dogmatic Christianity. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), educated according to Bentham’s counsel, believed in God, supported the ethical teachings of Jesus, but disavowed supernatural support for them. The novelist whose pen name was George Eliot (1819-1880) rebelled against the Evangelicalism in which she had been brought up but kept a sympathetic understanding of Evangelicals. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), in his later years hailed as the outstanding living man of letters in the English-speaking world, in his youth a believing Christian, in his maturity held that men’s lives are governed by blind, unconscious, purposeless cosmic forces. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), esteemed by Germans as their greatest poet, was deeply religious but not in a Christian sense. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), who left the stamp of his philosophy on much of Western thought of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, declared Christianity to be the perfect religion, employed Christian terminology in such fashion that he appeared to endorse it, but was in fact a pantheist.
Scholars applied current scholarly methods to the Bible and formulated theories which seemed to discredit Christianity. David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874), at first a Protestant but in his later years giving up belief in a personal God and immortality, cast doubt on the accuracy of the records of the sayings and deeds of Jesus and rejected the virgin birth of Jesus. Joseph Ernest Renan (1823-1892), who had prepared for the Roman Catholic priesthood but later left the church of his boyhood, in his readable Vie de Jésus (Life of Jesus), published in 1863, portrayed Jesus as attractive, but unpractical and futile, a son of Joseph and Mary, and held that He did not rise from the dead.
The Roman Catholic Response
The response of the Roman Catholic Church to the forces which were shaping the new day was mixed. On the one hand were serious losses. On the other hand was vitality which expressed itself in striking movements and knit that church more closely under the direction of a succession of strong Popes than at any time since the thirteenth century.
The losses were multiform and in many countries. In France urban populations, some of the rural districts, and laborers in mines and factories tended to drift away from the Church. Anticlericalism increased. Shortly after 190l many congregations of the religious were suppressed and thousands of schools conducted by members of congregations were closed. In 1905 the tie between Church and State was severed and most of the church edifices were declared to belong to the State. The use of the churches was permitted but under terms which were denounced by the Pope. French Roman Catholics presented no common front to the challenge but were divided. Many refused to cooperate with the Third Republic.
In Italy the rising nationalism expelled foreign, chiefly Austrian, rule, unified the country politically, erased the Papal States, and (1870) took possession of Rome. The Pope was unreconciled to the loss of his temporal domain, refused the compensation proffered by the State, and regarded himself as a prisoner in the Vatican. He forbade the faithful to participate in the civil government. The Kingdom of Italy confiscated many of the properties of orders and congregations.
In Spain the tide ebbed and flowed. In 1820 "liberals" obtained control of the State, dissolved nearly half the monasteries, and canceled the State support of the clergy. But in 1823 the regime which had taken these measures was crushed and the monasteries were restored. In the ensuing long years of civil strife mobs killed many priests and monks; in 1846 more than half the bishoprics were vacant. In the latter part of the century a stable government was achieved. It placed public instruction under the inspection of ecclesiastical authorities and gave financial support to some benevolent institutions of the Church. In 1910-1911 an anti-clerical prime minister took action against several congregations, and diplomatic relations with the Vatican were broken. With measures against the Church relaxed, in 1912 diplomatic relations with the Vatican were resumed.
Something of the same record marked the course of the Roman Catholic Church in Portugal. In 1833, after an exhausting civil war, "liberals" came into power, abolished tithes, closed a number of monasteries and convents, and nationalized their properties. In the latter half of the century restrictions on the Church were somewhat eased. Soon after 1900 a fresh anti-clerical wave suppressed a number of orders and congregations; under a newly created republic, Church and State were separated (1911).
Throughout Spanish America the Catholic Church suffered severely. In that vast region, as we have seen, under the impulse of the Catholic Reformation the major territorial expansion of that form of the faith in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries had been achieved. In the fore part of the nineteenth century all Spanish America except Cuba and Puerto Rico obtained their political independence, but during the course of the struggle the Church was dealt crippling blows. Some of the blows were from the scepticism engendered by the Enlightenment and the anti-Christian philosophies of the nineteenth century, especially the Positivism of Comte. Only minorities among the upper classes were seriously affected. However, many of the missions, staffed as they had been from Europe, were turned over to the secular clergy and disintegrated. The major embarrassment came from the conflict between the Spanish Crown and the emerging governments over the control of ecclesiastical appointments, especially to bishoprics. The Spanish Crown was slow to recognize the independence of the revolting colonies and insisted upon retaining command of the appointments. The regimes set up in the new republics claimed the same authority. The Popes, faced with anti-clericalism in Spain, hesitated to weaken the Church in that country by acceding to the demands of the new governments. As a result, many bishoprics were left unfilled. In 1826 only ten of the episcopal sees had occupants, and of them two were incapacitated and two left within the year. Deprived of ecclesiastical leadership in a period of political strife, the clergy suffered in morale and few priests could be recruited. Not for several years did Rome yield to the demand of the new governments. Moreover, in each of the Spanish American countries a chronic struggle ensued between anti-clericals and those who favored maintaining the tie between Church and State. The overwhelming majority of the population regarded themselves as Roman Catholics, but the degree of their conformity to the standards of the faith, already low, dropped further. The number and quality of the indigenous clergy were insufficient even to maintain the existing level of faith and morals. The deficiency was partly made up by clergy from Europe, mostly regulars. Such missions to the nonChristian tribes as existed were undertaken by members of European orders and congregations. As it had been from the beginning, the Christianity of Spanish America was parasitic, dependent for what life it contained on transfusions from the parent church in the Old World.
The Roman Catholic Church was fully as weak in Brazil as in Spanish America. The political tie with Portugal was severed without the fighting which marked the separation of Spanish America from the mother country. Nor was the strain between Church and State as acute as in Spanish America. But Positivism gained a wide following among the intelligentsia and was chiefly responsible for the separation of the Church from the State (1890). The quality of the clergy during much of the century is indicated by the fact that many, including bishops, were Free Masons, in spite of the Papal prohibition to Catholics of membership in that order. As in Spanish America, the indigenous clergy were too few to give adequate spiritual care to those who called themselves Catholics and the deficiency was only partly corrected from Europe. From Europe, too, came almost all the missionaries to the non-Christian Indians in the vast interior.
Serious as were the losses suffered by the Roman Catholic Church, inherent vitality was displayed in a variety of responses to the challenge.
One of the responses was in the heightening of the quality and effective power of the Papacy. Several factors were responsible for that development. One was the need felt by bishops for support against the mounting tide of anti-clericalism. Another arose from intellectuals who were leaders in the revival of the Catholic faith of which Chateaubriand had been a symptom and an agent. Outstanding were Joseph Marie, Comte de Maistre (1754-1821) and Félicité Robert de Lamennais (1782-1854). In a book, Du Pape, published in 1819, Maistre argued that true liberty could be achieved, not through the popular sovereignty advocated by the "liberals" who had manned the French Revolution, but through stern self-discipline, and that this could be accomplished only by a sovereignty superior to all others -- the Papacy. Du Pape had an enormous circulation. In more voluminous and also widely read writings Lamennais presented a fresh apologetic for the Christian faith as against eighteenth-century rationalism, criticized Gallicanism (the traditional belittling of Papal authority in the French Church), and stood for the Papacy as a safeguard of the faith. Many thoughtful spirits, reacting against the near-anarchy of the revolutionary movements and moved by the Romanticism which glorified the Middle Ages, enthusiastically endorsed the Papacy as a bulwark against the "liberalism" which to their mind was threatening civilization. The movement was known as ultramontanism -- looking beyond the mountains (the Alps) to Rome. To millions the Papacy symbolized the values of European culture which were menaced by the forces reshaping the Western world.
Ultramontanism grew and with it the Papacy achieved dominance in the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of three extraordinarily able men who occupied the See of Peter in the seventy-eight years immediately preceding World War I. They were Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X.
Pius IX, who had the longest tenure on the throne of Peter, from 1846 to 1878, since the hypothetical one by the Prince of the Apostles, on his election was hailed by many as a "liberal," hopefully a champion of the unification of Italy. The events of the revolutionary year of 1848 cured him of any leanings he may have had towards the surging currents of the day which were threatening the established order, and he became a staunch conservative. In 1854 he proclaimed the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary as dogma revealed by God to be believed by all the faithful. He thus gave the support of his office to the conviction that Mary had been born without original sin -- a theological position on which Roman Catholic scholars had not been agreed -- and by implication denounced views recently put forth by Strauss and held in many circles which denied the virgin birth of Jesus. In 1864, at the decennial of the proclamation of the immaculate conception, Pius IX issued the lengthy Syllabus of Errors. In eighty succinct paragraphs he listed contemporary beliefs and trends of which he disapproved. Among them were pantheism and the positions that human reason is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood and good and evil; that Christian faith contradicts reason; that Christ is a myth; that philosophy must be treated without reference to supernatural revelation; that every man is free to embrace the religion which, guided by the light of reason, he believes to be true; that Protestantism is another form of the Christian religion in which it is possible to be as pleasing to God as in the Catholic Church; that the civil power can determine the limits within which the Catholic Church may exercise authority; that Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils have erred in defining matters of faith and morals; that the Church does not have direct or indirect temporal power or the right to invoke force; that in a conflict between Church and State the civil law should prevail; that the civil power has the right to appoint and depose bishops; that the entire direction of public schools in which the youth of Christian states are educated must be by the civil power; that the Church should be separated from the State and the State from the Church; that moral laws do not need divine sanction; that it is permissible to rebel against legitimate princes; that a civil contract may among Christians constitute true marriage; that the Catholic religion should no longer be the religion of the State to the exclusion of all other forms of worship; and "that the Roman Pontiff can and should reconcile himself to and agree with progress, liberalism and modern civilization."
Pius IX called the first council recognized by his church as ecumenical since that of Trent. It met in the Vatican in 1869-1870, and its most notable decrees, later promulgated by the Pope, declared "that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine of faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be possessed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church"; and that the Roman Pontiff has "full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the world."
Significant of the growing power of the Papacy is the fact that, although a minority of the Council did not vote for these findings, after they were approved by the Pope every bishop submitted. Only a small minority of Roman Catholics, led by an eminent historian, Johann Josef Ignaz von Dollinger (1799-1890), declared that the Vatican decrees were untrue to history and, excommunicated by the Pope, constituted themselves the Old Catholic Church.
Significant of the growing power of "liberal" nationalism was the fact that the Vatican Council did not officially adjourn but dispersed because of the seizure of Rome by the Kingdom of Italy and the extinction of the Papal States. To that, as we have said, the Popes would not assent. Eventually (l929) the Papacy won a token approval of its position by the Lateran Treaty in which the Kingdom of Italy consented to the creation of Vatican City, a small domain of 109 acres, mostly centering about St. Peter’s, and to the recognition of the Supreme Pontiff’s status as a sovereign prince.
Leo XIII, who reigned from 1878 to 1903, did not openly dissent from the positions taken by his predecessor, but he was more inclined to come to an accommodation with the new age than Pius IX had been. Like the latter he was impeccable in his private life, and was free from the nepotism which had tainted the reigns of some even of the Popes who had been brought to their office by the Catholic Reformation. He had diplomatic skill in adjusting certain of the conflicts of his see with the forces of the age. He constrained Bismarck, the leading European statesman of the day, the creator of the German Empire, to yield in the Kulturkampf in which the latter had attempted to control the Catholic Church in Germany as many monarchs had done in preceding centuries. Leo XIII endeavored, without compromising his church’s basic convictions, to establish friendly relations with governments in which anti-clericalism was strong. In the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) he frankly recognized the economic and social conditions brought by the Industrial Revolution and attempted to formulate constructively his church’s policy towards them. To meet the intellectual currents of the day he encouraged the study of Aquinas and other schoolmen of the Middle Ages.
Pius X, who reigned from 1903 to 1914, the Papal throne had an incumbent who had had experience as a parish priest and was at heart a pastor. Essentially conservative, he early came into collision with the separation of Church and State in France and Portugal. He formally condemned what was known as "modernism," a trend among some of the clergy to conform the faith to the scholarship of the age. Positively, he concerned himself with the education of priests in Italy, exhorted clergy the world over to aspire to what he set forth as the standard for the perfect parish priest, encouraged frequent, even daily Communion by the laity, urged that children be admitted to that sacrament as soon as they understood the simple doctrines of the Church, stressed Christian marriage and family life, had the breviary reworked to make it more useful and to ensure the recitation of the whole Psalter each week, and enjoined devotion to Mary. He felt acutely the sufferings of both individuals and multitudes. World War I brought him deep agony of soul and is said to have hastened his death. Even in his lifetime miracles of healing by his prayers were reported. Within half a century after his death he was canonized, the first Pope since the sixteenth century and the second since the thirteenth century to be accorded that recognition.
In other ways the vigor inherent in the Roman Catholic Church made itself felt. Significantly, its most striking expressions occurred in France, the country where the anti-Christian, anti-clerical movements had been most pronounced and the secularism most corrosive. In the nineteenth century more new congregations came into being, entailing in their members complete dedication to God through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, than in any preceding century, and the majority had their birth in France. In the reviving effort to spread the faith among non-Christian peoples, more Roman Catholic missionaries went from France than from all the rest of the Roman Catholic Church. Here was begun (1822) the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which in the following century was to become the chief agency of the entire Church for raising money to support foreign missions. In 1881, in Lille, the first of the Eucharistic Congresses was held; in the remainder of the century and in the twentieth century such congresses were employed to nourish among the faithful devotion to Christ and His sacrifice. To a Frenchman, Prosper Louis Pasqual Gueranger (1805-1875), is attributed the beginnings of the Liturgical Movement. In the next century it was to attain world-wide proportions as a means of stimulating the laity to intelligent participation in the central rite of the Church. In France were reported the most famous of the appearances of the Virgin Mary of the nineteenth century -- in 1846, to two young shepherds on the plateau of La Salette in Savoy, and in 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous, a peasant girl, in a grotto near Lourdes, which became a shrine where miracles of healing were reported. Normandy was the home of Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), who as the Little Flower was believed through her intercession after her death to have been responsible for many miracles and who was canonized in 1925. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney (1786-1859), the Curé of Ars, wrought a moral transformation in the village where he was priest, was sought by high and low from far and wide for spiritual counsel, and was also canonized in 1925. France saw the development too of profound theology and of movements to solve the social problems brought by the revolutionary age.
Vitality was apparent in other countries. Germany was the home of distinguished scholarship. Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler (1811-1877), in 1850 created Archbishop of Mainz, greatly improved the quality of his clergy and formulated programs for social reform in a land where the Industrial Revolution was beginning to be felt. English Roman Catholics were emancipated from centuries-long legal disabilities (by various steps, culminating in unconditional emancipation in 1829). The English hierarchy was reestablished (1850), and many notable English converts were made, outstanding among them John Henry Newman (1801-1890). Through a high birth rate Roman Catholics multiplied in Canada, dominated the province of Quebec, and spread to other parts of the country. Roman Catholics poured into the United States by the millions, at first chiefly from poverty-stricken Ireland, then from Germany, and later from Italy and other parts of Europe. A nation-wide ecclesiastical structure was rapidly erected for them and an extensive school system was created to nurture youth in the faith. In Australia a large immigration, mainly from Ireland, was provided with clergy and a hierarchy. As never before the Roman Catholic Church became world-wide. In spite of the forces which appeared to be threatening its existence, its loyal adherents, although in some former Catholic lands a minority in a majority of nominal Catholics, were more numerous than ever before.
The Protestant Response
Even more than the Roman Catholic Church, Protestantism rose to the challenge and came to the year 1914 with improved morale in Western Europe, with a mounting effect on civilization, and with relatively a more extensive geographic expansion than any other branch of Christianity.
On the Continent of Europe the record was impressive. In Germany vigorous scholarship endeavored to examine theology and the Bible through the new approaches of the period. Schleiermacher lived until 1834 and inaugurated a new era in Protestant theology. He not only wrote but also lectured, preached, and concerned himself with the active affairs of the Church. Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg (1802-1869) was a staunch advocate of a revival of strict Lutheran orthodoxy. The nineteenth-century German theologian whose influence was second only to that of Schleiermacher was Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889). Ritschl was intent on helping to bring in the Kingdom of God on earth and reflected and influenced the optimistic belief in progress which characterized much of the Occident of that day. A galaxy of theologians and church historians are usually classed as Ritschlians. Eminent among them was Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), whose major writing was in the history of dogma. He maintained that the core of the primitive Gospel was "eternal life in the midst of time, by the strength and under the eyes of God," but that it had been obscured and distorted by its early contact with Greek thought. Another historian who came under the influence of Ritschl but might better be considered as in the tradition of Schleiermacher was Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923). His chief interest was the history of religion. He wished Christianity to be brought into harmony with the rapidly changing Occident.
Much of German scholarship was devoted to the study of the Bible. A major approach, known as the "higher criticism," sought to apply to the Scriptures the methods employed in the study of other ancient documents. Heinrich Ewald (1803-1875), enormously erudite and possessing the fervor of a prophet, was for a generation esteemed the outstanding expert on the Old Testament. Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), a pupil of Ewald, was even more famous than his teacher. He popularized an hypothesis which was already being put forward --that the religion of the Hebrews had developed from a primitive stage centering in Yahweh as a tribal deity to a belief in Yahweh as the God of righteousness and of the whole earth.
The controversy precipitated by Strauss’s Leben Jesu stimulated a fresh approach to the New Testament. Especially outstanding was Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792-1860). He was influenced by Hegel and the latter’s dialectic, in accordance with which he held that the primitive Church as seen in Jerusalem was distinctly Jewish, that Pauline Christianity was its antithesis, and that the conflict between the two was resolved in a synthesis, the Catholic Church. He maintained that the real essence of Christianity as it came from Jesus is in the Sermon on the Mount, the parables, and the various discourses of Jesus. Later in the century what was known as the eschatological interpretation of Jesus developed. Its classic expression was called, in its English translation, published in 1910, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, a Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede. Its author was Albert Schweitzer (1875 --), who later acquired another kind of fame by going to Africa (1913) as a medical missionary. Schweitzer maintained that much of the effort to discover the Jesus of history had ended in a blind alley, for it had attempted to clothe Him in modern dress. Jesus, so Schweitzer said, was a child of His age and of His Jewish environment, expected the Kingdom of God to come in the lifetime of Himself and His disciples, but was disappointed.
German theological and Biblical scholarship created a stir in both Protestant and Roman Catholic circles in Germany and many other lands. It stimulated discussion, gave rise to controversy, and attracted scholars from other countries to German universities.
German nineteenth-century Protestantism was characterized not only by scholarship but also by many awakenings. Some were in Reformed and others in Lutheran churches. A reaction against the emotionally sterile rationalism of the eighteenth century and akin to the prevailing Romanticism and philosophic Idealism, they led to a warm and deep religious life. Some were part of a swelling tide of Pietism. Others were a revival of Lutheran orthodoxy with emphasis upon the historic confessions -- statements of Lutheran beliefs. Many combined orthodoxy and Pietism.
Partly from Pietism and partly from the Enlightenment came a movement for church unity. In Prussia and several other states into which Germany was divided unions of Reformed and Lutherans were effected. The unions were resented by many strict Lutherans, who viewed them as a departure from the faith. Efforts were also made at cooperation among the many Landeskirchen, or territorial churches, which reflected the political structure of the country.
As a fruit of the awakenings came efforts to provide adequate clerical care for the mounting population and especially for the rapidly growing cities. The Landeskirchen were controlled by the State. Although legally individuals could withdraw from them, few did so. Most of the traditionally Protestant population was baptized, and an increasing proportion, although usually less than half, were confirmed. But parishes, especially in the cities, were too large to permit much congregational life. Pastors could do little more than preach, baptize, give pre-confirmation instruction, confirm, celebrate the Communion, officiate at marriages and funerals, and supervise the religious instruction which was given in the state schools. Some new church buildings were erected, but not enough to keep pace with the increase in population. Attendance at church services seems to have declined. Yet improvement was registered in the character and the training of the clergy.
Another outcome of the awakenings in German Protestantism was a spate of movements to deepen the life of Christians and to rise to the challenges brought by the Industrial Revolution. By contagion from abroad came Sunday Schools and Young Men’s Christian Associations. Out of the Protestant conscience arose many efforts to meet the needs of the new Germany. Thus Theodor Fliedner (1800-1854) developed at Kaiserswerth, where he was pastor, an institution for training deaconesses in which women were prepared to staff hospitals and orphanages. To it came Florence Nightingale (1829-1910), an Englishwoman who did much to develop nursing as a profession. After its pattern similar institutions were created in several countries. Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881), a Pietist of Lutheran background, was the creator of the Inner Mission. At the outset, in a suburb of Hamburg he trained young men, largely artisans and peasants, to form a kind of Protestant order to serve in orphanages, hospitals, and asylums for the feeble-minded and epileptics. The Inner Mission as such was launched in the revolutionary year of 1848. Wichern’s purpose was to recruit missionaries to win to a living faith the baptized and nominally Christian masses. He gathered laymen in voluntary associations to minister to men’s material needs. From the Inner Mission sprang many charitable institutions and movements. They and others like them were brought into a national federation. One of the most notable institutions connected with the Inner Mission was at Bethel, near Bielefeld. Its founder was a Pietist pastor, Friedrich von Bodelschwingh (1831-1910). At Bethel were created a home for epileptics and feeble-minded, a workers’ colony, a church, a house for deaconesses, another house for training men nurses, and a seminary in which, while preparing for the ministry, young men could have practical experience with unfortunates in the Bethel institutions.
Scandinavia was also the scene of impressive awakenings. In Denmark eighteenth-century rationalism was challenged. Pietism grew and prompted many to form circles and maintain institutions within the Lutheran state church. The Danish Inner Mission differed from the German Inner Mission. Thanks in part to Vilhelm Beck (1829-1901), an able preacher and organizer, the country was divided into districts, and colporteurs and home missionaries systematically distributed Bibles and other literature and by personal contacts endeavored to win the nominal Christians to an earnest Christian commitment. Through the Inner Mission new churches were erected in Copenhagen, Sunday Schools multiplied, books and periodicals were published, and schools for various purposes were conducted.
Quite apart from the Inner Mission, Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872) by a prolonged spiritual pilgrimmage became the prophet of a varied movement. Grundtvig wished a spiritual rebirth of the nation from the depths into which it had been cast by siding with Napoleon. He reminded Danes of their great historic heritage and held that they and the age in which they were set could be saved only by repentance and a return to the Christian faith. He made much of the sacraments, through which he believed the new life in Christ is created and maintained. In connexion with them he stressed the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. He promoted adult education, with emphasis on the rights and duties of a citizen in a modern democratic state. From the movements which he inspired came folk high schools.
Very different was Sören Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1955). From a traumatic experience which included association with a gloomy, deeply religious father and the rupture of an engagement for marriage came a stream of writings which in the next century contributed to the existentialism of those who were oppressed by the tragedy in the Western world. Kierkegaard was intense, painfully honest, extremely sensitive, melancholy by temperament, and tortured by questions which have troubled men since they began to think and which were aggravated by the intellectual challenges of the age. He knew profound despair, sought to face it squarely, and rejected the Danish state church from the conviction that it was an enemy of true Christianity.
Yet the Inner Mission, Grundtvig, and Kierkegaard did not fully transform Denmark. Also potent was the mounting tide of secularism, reenforced by intellectuals, such as the Jew Georg Morris Cohen Brandes (1842-1906), literary critic and historian, who were out of line with the Christian tradition.
In Norway, too, was a contrast -- between, on the one hand, a secularist indifference to religion and caustic critics of contemporary conventional Christianity such as Henrik Johan Ibsen (1826-1906) and Bjornstjerne Björnson (1832-1910) and, on the other hand, religious awakenings which profoundly stirred thousands. The awakenings had as outstanding figures Hauge, whom we have already met and who inspired a succession of lay preachers and Gisle Johnson (1822-1894), a distinguished scholar associated with the Inner Mission. The Inner Mission endeavored to bring nominal Christians to a full commitment and gave rise to prayer houses and folk schools for the quickening and nourishing of the faith.
Sweden was the scene of a surge of revivals which moved away from the cold rationalism of the Enlightenment and the chronic alcoholism that gave to the fore part of the century the designation "the brandy age." In the South-west was Henric Schartau (1757-1825), who mingled easily with all classes and who by his preaching had a profound effect which continued after his death. In the North groups of "New Readers" emerged from contacts with the Moravians. From them also sprang free churches which, in contrast with the Inner Mission in Denmark and Norway, separated from the state church. Towards the end of the century Ritschlianism and the historical criticism of the Bible entered from Germany, but in the person of Nathan Söderblom (1866-1931), who combined scholarship with a radiant faith, to some degree they were constructive. First as a professor in the University of Uppsala and then (1914-1931) as the Archbishop of Uppsala and so as the Primate of the Church of Sweden, Söderblom had an influence which, as we are to see, extended far beyond his native land.
In Sweden, in spite of the revivals, the laborers in the growing industries were drifting away from the faith. The leaders and many of the members of the labor unions were hostile to the Church and the religion for which it stood. By the end of the century clergy were declining in numbers, illegitimacy had increased, alcohol was still a problem, church attendance was falling off, and, although confirmation was required by law, many had not presented themselves for it.
Finland, culturally and formerly politically tied to Sweden and with a Lutheran state church, also experienced awakenings. Some were continuations of the Pietist movements of the Eighteenth century. Others had little connexion with them. They were strongest in the North but spread through the nation. The new capital, Helsinki (Helsingfors), became a center of them. Yet with industrialization organized labor made its appearance and in 1903 adopted a program which had Marxist, anti-Christian implications.
Estonia and Latvia, where traditionally German landlords had been dominant and Lutheranism was the prevailing religion, when the nineteenth century opened were under Russian rule. Because of the Russian connexion some of the peasants moved into the Russian Orthodox Church, but the majority remained Lutheran. Some revivals were experienced and a body of clergy of Estonian and Latvian stock was slowly developed.
In Hungary, as a phase of the revolutionary year of 1848, the Protestant minorities who had survived the persecution accompanying the Counter-Reformation were relieved of some of the legal disabilities from which they had suffered. Fresh life entered through contacts with Protestantism in other lands.
Swiss Protestantism had suffered from the benumbing effects of the Enlightenment. Early in the nineteenth century, in common with Protestantism in several other countries, it experienced an awakening, with warm personal commitment. In the French-speaking cantons it was known as the réveil. The réveil contributed decisively to a movement which was to acquire worldwide dimensions, the Red Cross. The Red Cross arose from the initiative of Henri Dunant (1828-l910). From an old, respected, well-to-do family in Geneva, Dunant was reared in the atmosphere of the réveil and was inspired by it. He was active in bringing into being the World’s Alliance of the Young Men’s Christian Associations (in Paris in 1855). Present at the Battle of Solferino (in Italy, in 1859, as an incident of a war between France and Sardinia on the one hand and Austria on the other), he was appalled by the lack of care of the sick and wounded. His book issued in 1862 which depicted what he had seen created a European sensation. From his determination that an international effort must be made to prevent a similar tragedy in future wars the International Red Cross was organized (l863). Dunant persuaded the Swiss Government to call a conference (1864) in which representatives of sixteen nations drew up the Geneva Convention -- eventually ratified by a large proportion of the world’s governments.
In most of Latin Europe -- notably in Italy, Spain, and Portugal --Protestantism won only slight footholds. In Italy in the revolutionary year 1848 the Waldenses were accorded permanent civil rights and, although a minority of only about twenty thousand, adopted an ambitious program for the evangelization of the country. But in Spain and Portugal such numerically feeble Protestant groups as emerged arose out of missionary effort from other countries. In France Protestantism had survived the persecutions and emigrations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and was quickened by contacts with awakenings in other countries, notably the Swiss réveil. By successive steps it was accorded toleration. In 1879 a national synod was convened, the first since ‘659. From the Protestant minority came notable statesmen and thinkers.
The Netherlands, with a large Roman Catholic minority, chiefly in the South, was predominantly Protestant. Most Protestants were in the Dutch Reformed Church, a church that had suffered from the Enlightenment. Now came an awakening which paralleled that in Switzerland. Indeed, it was often called the réveil. Many in the Dutch Reformed Church were critical of the réveil, and partly as a result, some of the most earnest supporters of the réveil seceded and formed the Christian Reformed Church. Theological discussion and controversy over the historical study of the Scriptures waxed warm. Abraham Kuyper (1837-l920), a pastor in the Reformed Church, had a profound experience which moved him to a firm emphasis on Calvinism as, in his judgment, the completed evolution of Protestantism. Convinced that the principle of the sovereignty of the people embodied in the French Revolution rather than the sovereignty of God leads to disaster, he headed a political party and from 1901 to 1905 was prime minister. In that office he altered the colonial policy in the East Indies in the direction of the interests of the native peoples rather than the profits of the Dutch. He was the first rector of the Free University of Amsterdam, founded in 1880 to uphold the theology he advocated. From the movement led by Kuyper came another secession from the Dutch Reformed Church which united with the majority of the Christian Reformed Church to form the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.
Paralleling the leadership of the British Isles in the Industrial Revolution, the world’s commerce, and the rapid expansion of the British Empire, surges of life in the churches made Protestant Christianity more widely vital in Britain than at any earlier time. The Evangelicalism of the eighteenth century quickened many of the population. It made its effect felt in the Church of England, in Nonconforming Protestantism, in Scottish Presbyterianism, and in Wales and Ireland.
In England Nonconformity grew, chiefly in several Methodist bodies, now fully severed from the Church of England, and in the Congregational and Baptist churches. It was also seen in smaller denominations, some old, like the Quakers, and some new, like the "Plymouth Brethren" (who preferred the simple designation of "Brethren"). The Presbyterianism inherited from Commonwealth days for the most part became Unitarian. In the course of the century, a variety of steps removed most of the legal disabilities which had hampered Nonconformists. Nonconformists came chiefly from the middle class. With the rising industrialization, commerce, and prosperity of the country that element in the population grew and with it Nonconformity flourished. Although only a minority of the population, Nonconformists were proportionately a larger minority than were dissenters from the Protestant state churches on the Continent, except possibly in the Netherlands.
The Church of England was aroused from its somnolence and the Deistic infection of the eighteenth century. Part of the fresh vigor came through the Evangelicals. Much was through a renewed emphasis upon the Catholic heritage which found expression in a revival that had its radiating center in Oxford and is variously known as the Oxford or Tractarian Movement. The latter designation is derived from a succession of papers, or tracts, in which the convictions of the leaders were expressed. Dating from a sermon preached by John Keble in the university church in 1833, the Oxford Movement boldly asserted the right of the Church of England to a life of its own associated with but not dominated by the State. Its outstanding figures included John Keble (1792-1866), John Henry Newman (1801-1890), and Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882). It stressed the heritage from the undivided Catholic Church of the early centuries and was accompanied by the enrichment of individual and collective worship, the re-appearance of some Catholic features in public worship, with crucifixes, candles, incense, auricular confession, frequent Communion, the reserved sacrament, the invocation of the saints, and the veneration of the Virgin Mary, and the appearance of orders of men and women. Some of the clergy and laity made their peace with Rome. Much opposition was aroused, chiefly by the innovations in ritual, and at times had violent expressions.
As a result of the Evangelical and Oxford movements and of other currents marked improvements were seen in the Church of England. Pluralism (holding two or more posts and drawing the revenues from them) and absenteeism were terminated. Sinecures were abolished. "Simony" -- the purchase and sale of livings -- was dealt a severe blow. Incomes of some of the wealthier episcopal sees were reduced and added to those of poorer sees. New bishoprics were created to care for the shifts and growth in population. Diocesan conferences of laity and clergy were held and convocations of the archiepiscopal provinces of Canterbury and York convened regularly, thus providing for more responsibility of the Church for its own affairs. The laity took an increasing part in church life. The quality of bishops and clergy rose and was never as high as on the eve of World War I. New church buildings were erected to take care of the expanding population, especially in the cities. Old church fabrics were restored, notably of the cathedrals, and the dignity of public worship was improved.
With the growth of the British Empire, the huge emigration to the colonies, and missions among non-Europeans the Anglican communion became world-wide. Beginning in 1867, usually every ten years, conferences of all Anglican bishops were convened in Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and under the chairmanship of that prelate.
Cognizance was taken by both Anglicans and Nonconformists of the current intellectual movements, especially in theology and the study of the Scriptures. In general, in accord with the English temperament, such study did not go to the extremes it reached in some quarters in Germany. Opposition was aroused in conservative circles, but so much of what was written was obviously from reverent scholars, constructive rather than negative, completely devoted to Christ and His Church, that in time general assent was given by the majority of thoughtful churchmen to the more moderate conclusions. Between the Evangelicals and the High Church-men was a large and diversified element called Broad Church. It sought to re-state the historic faith in such fashion that whatever was true in the new intellectual currents would be accepted and interpreted in the light of the Gospel.
A variety of movements arose to meet the challenges of the social changes brought by the growth of cities and the Industrial Revolution. In 1878 the Salvation Army was begun by William Booth (1829-1912) in an effort to reach the dregs in the slums of London and quickly spread to other cities and countries. In 1844 the Young Men’s Christian Association was founded by George Williams (1821-1905), then a draper’s clerk who like many other young men had come from a farm to seek his fortune in London. A product of Evangelicalism, it sought "the improvement of the spiritual condition of young men engaged in the drapery and other trades, by the introduction of religious services among them." The Young Men’s Christian Association soon expanded its program to meet the social, physical, and intellectual as well as the religious needs of young men in the lower and middle-income groups. It was rapidly reproduced, both in England and abroad, and had its largest development in the United States. Most of the laborers in the factories and mines which were major products of the Industrial Revolution drifted away from the churches. However, many were reached and some of the outstanding leaders in the emerging labor organizations had their initial training in Nonconformist circles, notably as Methodist lay preachers. Yet, while exact statistics are lacking, by the end of the century the percentage of the population attending public worship, although larger than in Germany, appears to have declined from the level of the mid-century.
What was often called the Nonconformist conscience, supplemented by Evangelicals in the Church of England, addressed itself to remedying the appalling conditions from which laborers suffered, whether servile or free. In 1833 through pressure from Evangelicals, both Nonconformist and Anglican, an act of Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire, with monetary compensation to the slave-owners. Legislation to shorten hours of labor and improve sanitary conditions for men, women, and children employed in mines and factories was indebted chiefly to Evangelicals. Outstanding in obtaining its enactment and in helping in voluntary measures to remedy conditions which damaged human lives was Anthony Ashley Cooper (1801-1885), the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury. He was a loyal Evangelical who owed his Christian nurture to a devout nurse. The temperance movement brought a reduction in the heavy drinking of the eighteenth and the fore part of the nineteenth century.
Clergy and laity, both of the Church of England and of the Nonconformists, were active in adjusting disputes between laborers and employers and in seeking to improve housing and other labor conditions. What was known as Christian Socialism appeared and won advocates. Although he was not strictly a Christian Socialist, John Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872) gave impetus to the movement. In 1889 the Christian Social Union was founded. It sought the application of Christian truths and principles to social and economic conditions.
Partly because of the quickened Christian conscience, the administrators of the widely extended colonial empire endeavored to make British rule serve the welfare of the peoples whom they governed and not simply to increase British wealth. A high degree of integrity characterized the top echelons and the rank and file of the civil service and the Colonial Office. A certain aloofness from the "natives" and a social life apart from the latter provoked irritation. But many of the governed were willing to say that those who constituted the contact between the governed and the governing sought even-handed justice and, while somewhat scornfully regarding the rank and file of the subject populations as "half devil and half child" and "lesser breeds without the law," spent themselves unstintedly in their behalf.
Although many of the British intelligentsia felt that in view of the advance of human knowledge they could no longer be Christians and, as we have seen, much of literature and thought was religiously sceptical, some widely influential figures in prose and poetry remained unashamedly Christian. Prominent among them were Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), and Robert Browning (1812-1889).
English Protestantism made major contributions to education. The old universities, Oxford and Cambridge, Anglican foundations, were progressively secularized. In the eighteenth and the early decades of the nineteenth century Nonconformists had "academies" which, while not granting degrees, gave fully as good higher education as did the universities at Oxford and on the Cam. Secondary schools, usually called "public," were mostly Anglican. Although the moral and intellectual tone of many left much to be desired, in the course of the nineteenth century under the inspiration of clerical headmasters marked improvement was seen. With the growth of an industrial and democratic society, education for the rank and file became imperative. Most of it was long in private hands, chiefly Anglican, but before the end of the century the State undertook elementary education.
Scotland had a state church, the Church of Scotland, Presbyterian. At the outset of the century some independent small Presbyterian and other Protestant bodies existed, and Episcopalians constituted an influential minority. In the course of the nineteenth century awakenings stirred the Church of Scotland, bringing major divisions. In 1843 what was known as the Disruption, led by Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), brought into being the Free Church of Scotland. The Disruption was ostensibly a protest against the control of the parish clergy by the lay proprietors and the constraints on the Church by the State as a concomitant of the establishment. But it embodied other sources of friction. The Free Church was warmly Evangelical and was strongest in the middle classes in the cities and in the Highlands. By withdrawing from the Church of Scotland, the Free Church lost any share in the ancient endowments and the existing church fabrics. Since an even larger proportion of the laity than of the clergy went with it, with their assistance the Free Church erected new church buildings, founded theological schools to prepare its ministers, and was active in foreign missions. Smaller groups who had seceded from the Church of Scotland in the eighteenth century joined it. In 1900 the United Presbyterians and the large majority in the Free Church came together in the United Free Church of Scotland. The United Presbyterians had come into being in 1847 by the union of two previously dissenting groups. It was heartily Evangelical and was especially active in foreign missions. A small conservative minority of the Free Church, mostly in the Highlands and known humorously as the Wee Frees, did not go into the United Free Church but kept vigorously aloof from it.
The Church of Scotland retained the theological moderates and the political conservatives. It enrolled the well-to-do farmers, the local gentry (not the nobility, for most of the latter adhered to the Episcopal Church), and many of the officials. Undiscouraged by the secession of the Free Church, it created new parishes to meet the needs of the growing urban population and recruited and trained a body of clergy to replace those who went with the Free Church. It introduced organs and made other innovations in public worship: In 1874 by an act of Parliament the choice of ministers to existing benefices was taken from the landlords and vested in the communicants and such adherents as the church might admit to the parish rolls. But the connexion with the State was not severed. In 1929 the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church came together under the designation "the Church of Scotland" and free from any control by the State.
The theological and Biblical issues brought by the intellectual currents of the age troubled the Scottish Presbyterians as they did Protestants in other countries. From the Scottish Presbyterians came many scholars whose writings were widely read in the English-speaking world. In the main, as in England, the best-known works of scholarship were accepted by large numbers and no major division was occasioned by them.
In the nineteenth century the religious life of the principality of Wales rose considerably in quality. The Church of Wales was in communion with the Church of England and was established by law. At the dawn of the century the non-residence of clergy was notorious, church fabrics had fallen into disrepair, and many of the resident clergy were poorly trained In the course of the century a striking improvement was seen, and disestablishment (in 1914) hastened rather than retarded the advance. Nonconformity flourished and advanced in quality as well as numbers. The denominations having the most adherents were the Congregationalists, the Calvinistic Methodists, the Wesleyan Methodists, and the Baptists. Nationalism was rising, and in the minds of many Nonconformity was associated with it. Nonconformity was stimulated by notable revivals in 1828-1830, in 1859, and especially in 1904-1905.
The Church of Ireland, in communion with the Church of England, was disestablished in 1869. It survived the shock and in 1911 enrolled a slightly larger proportion of the population than at the time of separation from the State. But it was the church of only a minority. Roman Catholics, closely associated with ardent Irish nationalism, were in the overwhelming majority. In the North of Ireland, where a substantial proportion of the population was of Scottish ancestry, Presbyterianism was prominent. It reflected the Protestant awakenings of the century but in general remained more Calvinistic than did the Presbyterianism of Scotland. Methodism enrolled increasing numbers but still a minority. Congregationalists and Baptists included smaller numbers.
The Response of the Eastern Churches
The nineteenth century witnessed a substantial growth of the Eastern Churches in Europe due to developments in the Turkish Empire and Russia.
The progressive disintegration of the Ottoman Empire had as a major feature the regaining of independence by Greece, Rumania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. Each of these countries was prevailingly Orthodox. Under Turkish rule their bishops had been largely Greeks appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarch from the Phanar district of Constantinople. When Turkish rule was thrown off, the churches became administratively independent of the Ecumenical Patriarch. In some instances, notably in Bulgaria, friction with that office was acute, chiefly over autonomy. In the main, with independence, especially in Greece, ecclesiastical and political autonomy was followed by some recovery from the ebb in the quality of Christian living during Turkish rule.
The Russian Orthodox Church, largest of the Eastern Churches, was, as we have seen, tied closely to the State and subordinate to it. Its faith was threatened by sceptical movements from Western Europe, especially among the intelligentsia. Through Western influence, mainly contacts with Pietism and Quakerism, Alexander I, who ruled from 1801 to 1825, experienced a conversion. Among other acts he encouraged Bible societies, patterned after the British and Foreign Bible Society. In the course of the century Slavophiles, who wished Russia to free itself from the cultural influence of the West, were devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church as a bulwark against the alien currents. In general, conservatives, whether or not they were Slavophiles, looked to the Russian Orthodox Church as a mainstay against revolution.
Parallel with the effort to use the Russian Orthodox Church to counter revolution was an awakening in the inner life of the Church. The awakening came partly through startsi, or elders, who gave themselves to the ascetic life and to prayer, and were a continuation of the kenoticism, or emptying of self, which we saw early characterized Russian monasticism.
The Russian Orthodox Church also experienced an awakening in its intellectual life. Outstanding was the contribution of Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyev (1853-1900). In his teens Solovyev had rejected the faith in which he had been reared, but by the time he was twenty he had returned to it. He was a mystic, a prophet, a moral teacher, a philosopher, and a theologian. To him may be attributed at least part of a revival of the Christian faith which was seen on the eve of World War I. Some of the novelists of the century, notably Dostoyevsky, reflected the influence of the Christian faith. Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) also was profoundly stirred.
Some religious movements of Christian origin existed but were not contained in the Russian Orthodox Church. Most of them were of pre-nineteenth-century origin.
Protestantism in the Larger Europe: The United States
In the larger Europe which arose from emigration, Protestantism was increasingly important, particularly, of course, in areas peopled chiefly from the British Isles and the Protestant countries of the Continent. Outstanding was the United States.
Throughout the nineteenth century, religiously the United States was prevailingly Protestant in ethos, and of the British tradition. At the outset of the century its population was descended chiefly from immigrants from Great Britain and North Ireland, with substantial minorities from the Protestant portions of Germany and the Netherlands and slight contingents of Huguenots and Swedes. As the years passed, the Protestant elements were substantially augmented by accessions from Germany and Scandinavia, and with some from the British Isles. By the end of the century Roman Catholics grew by several millions from Ireland and Germany and latterly from Italy and Central Europe.
Although the United States by tradition was prevailingly Protestant, at the beginning of the nineteenth century only a small proportion, said to have been about seven in a hundred, were members of churches. Presumably the percentage who had been baptized was not much larger. Here was an obvious challenge. Could the proportion be increased? Growth was threatened by the mobility of the population. A vast movement from the older settlements on the Atlantic seaboard to the rapidly westward advancing frontier was a major feature in the young nation. Would the small minority of these migrants who were already baptized retain their church connexions? Would those without these connexions be adequately reached? Such traditions of the union of Church and State has had existed in colonial days were early officially dissipated. The Federal Constitution forbade the Congress to establish any religion. In 1833 the last remnant of an earlier establishment in individual colonies was erased. The absence of formal establishment lessened the danger of the anticlericalism which was marked on the other side of the Atlantic but did not entirely remove it. Financially the churches were dependent on voluntary contributions and not taxes, as in Europe. Would the constituencies respond? Most of the sceptical currents which were eroding the faith of many in Europe were present in the United States. Industrialization and the rapid growth of cities brought problems similar to those in Europe. In addition were several million Negro slaves, having no Christian heritage, and thousands of Indians, non-Christian, widely scattered in many tribes.
A striking feature of the Protestantism of the United States was the fashion in which the challenge was met. The percentage of the population having church membership rose decade by decade. It is said to have been 15.5 in 1850, 35.7 in 1900, and 43.5 in 1910. Part of the growth came through the Roman Catholic Church, but most of it was in Protestant churches.
The growth took place by processes which were chiefly indigenous. On the frontier it was due partly to camp-meetings, partly to the activity of slightly educated preachers who could speak the language of the settlers and often were itinerant. The Methodists developed a system of circuit riders, supervised by district superintendents and bishops. With their loose form of organization in autonomous churches grouped in regional associations and state conventions, Baptists fitted into the democratic pattern of the frontier. Denominations with higher educational standards, such as the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, and the Baptists of the eastern seaboard organized societies which sent missionaries to the western settlements but did not gather as many converts as did the men who were sprung from the frontier and spoke its language. Later, as towns and cities grew, preachers who were called evangelists traveled through them, holding meetings which might last for several days or even weeks and calling for open decision for the Christian life. Outstanding among the evangelists were Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) in the middle of the century and Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899) in the second half of the century. Both extended their activities to the British Isles. They were only two of hundreds who were less well known. From Europe came missionaries to German and Scandinavian settlers. In general the European missionaries were of Pietist background and theologically conservative. Sunday Schools for the nurture of children and youth were extensively employed, especially by the churches which appealed to the older American stock those whose ancestors had come to the Thirteen Colonies before independence. The American Bible Society, begun in 1816 partly through the example of the British and Foreign Bible Society, sought to place a copy of the Scriptures in every home in the United States as well as helping in the distribution in other countries.
Out of these methods of propagating the faith and with immigration came a Protestantism which, though rooted in Europe, was in many respects different from that on the other side of the Atlantic. In it denominations which were very much in the minority or were non-existent in Europe enrolled the majority of the Protestant church members. The largest bodies were Baptists (in several national or regional conventions, some of them Negro, for the majority of such Negroes as became Christians were Baptists), Methodists (in more than one ecclesiastical structure, some of them also Negro), the Disciples of Christ (of American origin), the Church of Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ (Mormons, also sprung from the soil), Christian Scientists (likewise indigenous), and the Seventh Day Adventists (born in the United States). The total membership of the Protestant churches which were established in Europe and represented in the United States -- Episcopalian, Lutheran, Reformed, and Presbyterian -- did not equal that of bodies on the other side of the Atlantic regarded as dissenters.
In the Protestantism of the United States financial self-support was universal. The lay element was more prominent than in Europe; it was evident in the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Associations and it also characterized the ecclesiastical bodies. In the second half of the century organizations came into being to enlist the younger generation, among them the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor and the student divisions of the YMCA and the YWCA. They proved contagious and gave rise to world-wide movements. From the student YMCA, through John Randolph Mott (1865-1955), came the World’s Student Christian Federation (1896), which united on a global scale similar movements in other lands.
The intellectual currents that challenged Christianity in Europe were also present in the United States. Militant scepticism made itself heard. The voice which had the widest hearing was that of Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899). Son of an itinerant evangelist, spotless in his family life, loyal to his friends, a superb orator, a lawyer and politician, Ingersoll rejoiced in pointing out what he believed to be the evils sanctioned in the Old Testament and was an enthusiastic Darwinian. In every major denomination were those who wrestled with the problems presented to Christianity by the philosophy, historical methods, and science of the age. In doing so, some became Unitarians. Unitarianism centered in Boston, where the eighteenth century had seen departure from the inherited Calvinism. As a phase of the religious ferment which found expression in Unitarianism, and influenced by Carlyle and much of current German thought, Transcendentalism arose, also in Massachusetts, partly as a protest against the spreading materialism. Its direct influence was confined to a small circle, but it had wide repercussions. Those who, like the Congregationalists and Presbyterians, had been reared on Calvinism and the Westminster Confession endeavored to defend that system or adjust it to the new conditions. The issues raised by German scholarship in the study of the Bible created discussions. Towards the end of the century an extreme reaction against any accomodation to higher criticism gave rise to the beginnings of Fundamentalism -- stressing what its adherents believed were the basic tenets of the Gospel -- a movement which was to assume larger dimensions after 1914.
Protestantism had many profound effects on the life of the United States. It was the source of the "American dream" -- achieving an ideal society in the New World, free from the contamination of the Old World and from the evils which chronically beset mankind. From it issued the movement that eventually brought about the emancipation of the Negro slaves. In the same breath we must hasten to say that it was by whites of Protestant ethos that the Negroes had been enslaved. Emancipation did not solve the problem of the freedmen. Though Protestants, white and colored, strove in many ways, especially through schools, to help the Negroes make a successful adjustment to their new status, progress was slow. From Protestantism came agitation for peace and the crusade for temperance. In several states the temperance movement brought about the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, and in 1919 prohibition was written into the national Constitution. From Protestantism sprang also a widening stream of philanthropy. Not all private munificence had Christianity as the direct cause, but in much the Christian faith was the impelling motive. The most notable of philanthropists of the nineteenth century was John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937). His extensive gifts sprang from his Christian conviction that his wealth was a trust from God. In the latter part of the nineteenth century what was known as the "social gospel" endeavored to realize fully the Kingdom of God on earth by remedying the chronic ills of mankind. Its best-known exponent was Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), whose social convictions stemmed from a Pietist background.
Protestantism had a profound influence on education in the United States. All but one of the earliest colleges issued from it, and out of them came the oldest universities -- Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton. Protestantism fathered scores of colleges and universities on the westward-advancing frontier. It was responsible for most of the early secondary education. In several states universal primary education was initiated by Protestants who were moved by their Christian faith.
Some of the men who did most to shape public life and national policies owed much of their ideals and resolution to Christianity. Outstanding was Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Not a church member, he was a diligent student of the Bible and as President during the agony of the Civil War meditated profoundly on the bearing upon it of the purposes of God. His second inaugural address, delivered shortly before an assassin’s bullet killed him summarized his conclusions and called for reconciliation between the warring sections, "with malice towards none, with charity for all."
Protestantism in the larger Europe: Latin America
Protestantism could not gain a foothold in Latin America so long as Spain and Portugal were in power. Following independence, relaxation of the ban on that form of the faith began. Before 1914 Protestantism made its chief numerical gains through immigration, chiefly of Germans in Brazil and of Waldenses in Uruguay and Argentina, but these were small minorities. Missions from the British Isles and the United States gathered a few converts among pagan Indians and nominal Roman Catholics. Not until after 1914 did Protestantism have a substantial growth.
Protestantism in the larger Europe: The British Dominions
By the end of the nineteenth century Protestantism was represented by growing constituencies in new nations which were arising from immigration and which by 1914 were self-governing dominions within the British Empire.
The most populous of the British dominions and the largest in area was Canada. As we have seen, Canada had a strong and relatively compact French Roman Catholic element. In the nineteenth century to the French were added substantial numbers of Roman Catholic Irish. The large majority of the nineteenth-century immigrants were Protestant by heritage, most of them from England, Scotland, and North Ireland. As a consequence the largest Protestant bodies were the Church of England in Canada, the Presbyterians, and the Methodists. Baptists constituted a minority and still smaller minorities were in other denominations. In 1914 by far the greatest part of Canada’s population called itself Christian and of this group a majority expressed either direct affiliation with or preference for one or another of the Protestant bodies. Missions won many of the aborigines -- Indians and Eskimos -- to the Christian faith, and white occupation was not accompanied by as extensive wars and exploitation of non-whites as took place in the United States.
In Australia, next in size and population and more recently settled than Canada, the initial immigration was by penal transportation, unpromising material for a new nation. The majority of the immigrants came voluntarily, however, mostly from the British Isles. Roman Catholicism, chiefly of Irish origin, was strong, but more than half the population were Protestants by ethos or membership, with Anglicans leading and with important Presbyterian and Methodist minorities.
New Zealand was more recently occupied by Europeans than was either Canada or Australia. Its population was predominantly from Great Britain, with the Church of England and Presbyterianism numerically the main forms of Protestantism.
In South Africa the majority of the European stock were Afrikaners, of Dutch ancestry. With very few exceptions Afrikaners were members of one or another of the Dutch Reformed Churches. A large minority of the Europeans were from the British Isles and included Roman Catholics (from Ireland), Anglicans, Presbyterians, and some of other Protestant denominations. An increasing proportion of the Africans bore the Christian name and overwhelmingly as Protestants.
The Spread of Christianity Outside the European World
A feature of the religious history of the nineteenth century was the diffusion of Christianity among non-Christians. Most of it was by missionaries inspired by the awakenings in Christianity. The spread was associated with the imperialism and colonialism of European peoples, achieved as these were by aggression and followed by the exploitation of non-Europeans. Through its expansion Christianity registered the most widely extended geographic footholds that it or any other religion had attained. Associated though the expansion was with Western imperialism and colonialism, it had less support from governments than at any time since the adoption of the faith by Constantine. Often, in spite of the fact that it was increasingly anti-clerical, the French Government gave assistance as a means of extending its political and commercial ambitions. The British administrators did not use missions as a tool for conquest. Such support as they gave was chiefly through subsidies to mission schools, maintaining order, and seeing that British missionaries were protected. The aid was given not because the schools were under Christian auspices but because they were assisting in the education which the government was promoting as a means of fulfilling what it deemed its obligation to subject peoples. Protection was accorded missionaries not because they were missionaries but because the maintenance of order was one of the objectives of the government; protection was given all foreigners and especially British citizens, regardless of their occupation. The Tsarist regime helped Russian Orthodox missions, but these were not extensive and with a few exceptions were within Russian domains.
The nineteenth-century expansion of Christianity among non-Western peoples was brought about almost entirely by Roman Catholics and Protestants, with Protestants doing the larger part.
Roman Catholic missions were maintained through existing orders -- chiefly the Society of Jesus and the Brothers Minor, with important Dominican contingents -- and also, to a lesser degree, through newly organized societies and congregations. Among the agencies of nineteenth-century origin were the Société des Missionnaires de Notre Dame d’Afrique, usually known as the White Fathers, an outgrowth of the attempt to use the extension of the French Empire in North Africa as an opportunity to spread the faith; the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Belgian organization with headquarters at Scheutveld, a suburb of Brussels; the Society of the Divine Word, made up of Germans from Steyl, in Holland, not far from the German border; St. Joseph’s Society of Mill Hill, with its center near London, but with predominantly Dutch personnel. As we have seen, the majority of the Roman Catholic missionaries were French.
Protestant missionaries came from almost all countries where Protestants were a substantial proportion of the population -- Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the British Isles, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The majority were from the British Isles and the United States. Until 1900 the British Isles provided the larger contingents, but in later decades the churches of the United States assumed an increasing role in the enterprise and in 1914 were contributing more money than were the British Churches.
The mounting participation of the Protestants of the United States was given a major impulse by the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. It dated from a student conference held in 1886 with Dwight 1. Moody as host and the chief speaker. It was there that John R. Mott, for years the chairman of the executive committee of the Movement, dedicated himself to missions. Under the slogan "The Evangelization of the World in This Generation" the Student Volunteer Movement enlisted thousands from colleges, universities, and theological seminaries and spread to the British Isles and the Continent of Europe. Evidences of the growing share of the United States in the foreign missionary movement were the holding in New York in 1900 of what was called the Ecumenical Missionary Conference and the fact that the epoch-making World Missionary Conference convened in Edinburgh in 1910 had Mott as its presiding officer and chief organizer and made him chairman of the Continuation Committee from which emerged (1921) the International Missionary Council as a means of coordinating Protestant missions of all nations.
The outpouring of life by Roman Catholics and Protestants led to the planting or strengthening of Christianity in every continent and in the majority of countries. More and more, the purpose was to bring into being churches which would not be dependent on foreign personnel and funds. Except in a few small islands in the Pacific, until 1914 the Christian communities which arose from missions from the West were small minorities, Christian enclaves in overwhelming non-Christian populations, dependent on continued infusions from Europe and America and regarded by the non-Christian neighbors as aliens, the religious phase of Western imperialism and colonialism.
In North Africa and Western Asia, traditionally Moslem, very few converts were won, and such as came were predominantly from the Eastern Churches, themselves encysted minorities. In Africa south of the Sahara European explorations were spearheaded chiefly by Protestants, of whom the earnest and courageous David Livingstone (1813-1873), a Scottish missionary, was outstanding, followed by Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), British born but a citizen of the United States. By the year 1914, from the Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries who followed these and other pioneers small Christian communities were appearing, harbingers of the remarkable and accelerating growth of the next fifty years.
India, shortly after the mid-century brought completely under British rule, was the scene of increasing Roman Catholic and Protestant missionary effort. Christianity was already represented by the ancient Syrian Church and Roman Catholic contingents partly controlled by the Portuguese. The numbers of Christians grew, mainly in the South where the earlier communities were strong. But by the outbreak of World War I they totaled less than one per cent of the population.
Dating from the Portuguese occupation, the Christians of Ceylon were about ten in a hundred, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Burma and Siam had small Christian groups, most numerous among the animistic peoples of Burma. In Indo-China, under French protection, Roman Catholics experienced a substantial growth but were still a small minority. The Dutch East Indies had growing Christian communities, mainly Protestant and among former animists.
On reluctant China, opened to Westerners by cannon, predominantly British, Roman Catholics and Protestants expended much effort, chiefly in the second half of the century and mostly after 1900. By 1914 less than one-half of one per cent. of the population called themselves Christians. In Korea, helpless victim of her large neighbors, China, Japan, and Russia. Christians were not tolerated until the 1880’s. Beginning in the 1880’s they grew rapidly, most of them Protestants and from missions from the United States. Japan did not permit the re-entrance of missionaries until 1859, and then only grudgingly. Protestants, Roman Catholics, and a small contingent of Russian Orthodox were active. By 1914 fewer than one in five hundred of the population professed Christianity.
The Philippines, mostly Roman Catholic as the result of the Spanish occupation, were somnolent until nationalism stirred early in the 1890’s and annexation by the United States occurred (1899). Adjustment of the Roman Catholic Church to the changed situation was painful. In protest against the refusal of Rome to appoint Filipino bishops a secession into an independent church carried away several hundred thousand. Protestant missionaries entered and quickly won growing numbers. The islands of the Pacific, widely scattered over a vast expanse, were the scene of extensive Protestant and some Roman Catholic missions. As a result the populations of several of the islands, mostly in the east and all previously animist, were converted.
Missionaries, especially Protestant missionaries, were pioneers in helping non-European peoples adjust to the invading European culture. They opened schools, where necessary reduced the languages to writing, in the effort to further physical health brought in Western medicine and surgery, and fought famine. Protestants translated all or part of the Bible into hundreds of tongues and distributed it widely.
A Look Backward and Forward
In a century which saw mounting threats in the center of its greatest strength, Christianity suffered losses. But it also displayed a vigor in striking contrast with its languor on the eve of the revolutions which ushered in the nineteenth century. That renewed strength was seen in all major branches of the faith -- Roman Catholics, Protestant, and Orthodox. Vigor was displayed in a variety of ways. It reduced the compromises by the churches of the preceding century and gave rise to new movements which made Christianity more nearly in accord with the Gospel than it had been since its earliest centuries. It succeeded in holding to the faith or winning back millions of emigrants or descendants of emigrants in North America and Australasia. The chief losses were in Roman Catholic constituencies in Latin Europe and Latin America. The main, but not the only, advances were through Protestantism. Missions planted Christianity, still insecurely, among more peoples than it or any other religion had yet reached.
Now followed a stage in the revolution which threatened all the gains of the past. Spectacular losses were seen, chiefly in Europe, the historic center of what had been called Christendom. But, as we should by now expect, the vitality inherent in the Gospel found expression in ways which, if mankind be viewed as a whole, made Christ more influential in the human scene than He or any other born of woman had ever been.
Viewed 230602 times.