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broad church

broad church is a term applied from the late 1840s to Anglicans who were neither evangelicals nor tractarians, and became common currency after W. J. Conybeare's Edinburgh Review article on ‘Church Parties’ (1853). It embraced prominent churchmen who, influenced by Thomas Arnold and Coleridge, worked to restate catholic doctrines and reposition the national church, unafraid of contemporary scholarship. With F. D. Maurice (1805–72) as their representative divine, F. W. Robertson of Brighton (1816–53) their preacher, Jowett of Balliol (1817–93) their academic, and Dean Stanley of Westminster (1815–81) their ecclesiastic, they were influential, even dominant, in their church by 1900 and attractive to many nonconformists, especially congregationalists.

Clyde Binfield

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Broad Church

Broad Church: see England, Church of.

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Broad Church

BROAD CHURCH

A term applied originally to those members of the Church of England in the second half of the 19th century who, having no organized party, agreed in interpreting the religious formularies of anglicanism in their widest sense to enable men of varied religious views to continue membership in the Church. Thomas Arnold (17951842), classical scholar and famed headmaster of Rugby, was a powerful influence in forming this school of thought. Broad Churchmen stressed moral rectitude and tolerance of heterodox views, but decried hierarchical organization and ritualism as unimportant. They freely accepted whatever scientific opinion seemed to say about religion and the Bible. They considered the latter a source of teaching on righteousness rather than a guide to belief. The publication by seven authors of Essays and Reviews (1860) made such views widely known and caused a general outcry in the established Church. The book was officially condemned and two of the essayists were punished. Their successors in the 20th century are generally referred to as modernists, but many are more easily recognizable as members of the Modern Churchmen's Union, founded in 1898 for the promotion of theological liberalism in the Church of England. They advocate a continuing reformulation of Anglican beliefs as the exigencies of the times may seem to require, even when this involves discarding beliefs usually thought fundamental to Christianity.

See Also: high church; low church.

Bibliography: j. a. t. robinson, Honest to God (Philadelphia 1963). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 91, 199, 287290, 463, 910.

[e. mcdermott]

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