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Kirk, Kenneth Escott


Anglican bishop of Oxford, theologian; b. Sheffield, England, Feb. 21, 1886; d. Oxford, June 8, 1954. Educated at Sheffield Royal Grammar School and at St. John's, Oxford, Kirk graduated (1908) with first class honors and became assistant to the professor of philosophy at University College, London (190912). He received holy orders in 1913, and devoted the rest of his life, except for an interval as military chaplain during World War I, to an academic career at Oxford. In 1927 he became regius professor of moral and pastoral theology, and canon of Christ's Church, Oxford. He delivered the Bampton Lectures in 1928. From 1937 to his death he was bishop of Oxford. Kirk was an Anglo-Catholic in the liberal tradition of Charles gore and the lux mundi school. He contributed to Essays Catholic and Critical (1926), a symposium that accepted the findings of critical scholarship in a way that would have seemed temerarious to earlier generations of Tractarians, but that was by 1926 taken for granted by most progressive Anglo-Catholics. Kirk was also one of the most prominent Anglican moral theologians of his day. His main publications were: A Study of Silent Minds (1918), Some Principles of Moral Theology (1920), Conscience and Its Problems (1927), The Vision of God (Bampton Lectures 1928), The Threshold of Ethics (1933), The Crisis of Christian Rationalism (1935), The Epistle to the Romans (Clarendon Bible, 1936), The Ministry of Absolution (1947), and The Coherence of Christian Doctrine (1950). Kirk edited and contributed to Personal Ethics (1934) and the Apostolic Ministry (1946).

Bibliography: e. w. kemp, The Life and Letters of Kenneth Escott Kirk (London 1959).

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