Re: P.J. Bowler book

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Thu Jan 10 2002 - 16:49:20 EST

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    Sorry I havent read it yet , but it is on my list. Anything by Bowler is
    usually excellent as he is always careful and fair.

    The book as I gather (partly from talking to Bowler) is largely about
    Anglican attitudes from 1900 to c1950 As a result there will be little on
    evangelcals as the Cof E was dominated by either a moderate Modernism or
    Liberal Anglocatholicism until the 50s when the terrible evangelicals came
    back and upset everyone.

    The theology of these was trinitarian with some iffy on the Virgin Birth and
    empty tomb. The bible was most fallible and Genesis was basically myth. Most
    assumed no conflict of science and faith as they had put behind them the
    literalism of the 19th century (and overlooked the fact that in the 19th
    century most were not literalsit!) They had a soft view of the Fall and
    emphasised Incarnation rather than Atonement and rejected Substitutionary
    Atonement. The more liberal/modernist often had a very exemplarist view of
    the atonement - if at all.

    When you read these Anglican theologians William Temple, Gore, NPWilliams,
    Raven and many others you will find a confident liberal optimism which has
    been reroded since WWII as the basis of their weak religious authority was
    undermined. I cannot help seeing them as living off the inherited Christian
    capital of previous generations and thus when questions arose and arose they
    did the whole confident theology was eroded.

    Bowler's best example is Bishop EW Barnes of Birmingham who rejected much
    more in the way of belief but looks orthodox compared to Bish Spong. Bowler
    reckons he was the only really to consider the theological implications of
    evolution and I think he was right. I finfd the others cosy and also adopt a
    very non-darwinian evolution allowing in optimistic progress.

    Now Barnes flung out orthodox belief , the task for us is to demonstrate
    whether or not evolution can be compatible with orthodox belief
    particularly of Fall/sin and atonement.

    I will leave you all with that and will have to read the book


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2002 1:01 AM
    Subject: P.J. Bowler book

    > I just finished reading one of my Christmas gifts and thought others might
    > interested in it. Historian Peter J. Bowler (Queen's Univ. - Belfast)
    > recently published the book "Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate
    > Early Twentieth Century Britain" (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2001). It deals
    > with scientists, theologians, and the 'general culture' (including C.S.
    > Lewis) from post-Darwin to roughly World War II. It's a fascinating
    > and helped this North American to put the British situation and some
    > semi-familiar names into a much more coherent narrative. Also notable are
    > some similarities between today's situation with the period covered in the
    > book (e.g., increased materialism and 'spiritualism').
    > I'd recommend the book for any science/religion history buffs out there.
    > Perhaps Michael Roberts will eventually get a chance to read it and give
    us a
    > UK impression.
    > Karl
    > ********************************
    > Karl V. Evans

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