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Building Community: Anglo-Catholicism and Social Action

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Morris, JN 


Some years ago the Guardian reporter Stuart Jeffries spent a day with a Salvation Army couple on the Meadows estate in Nottingham. When he asked them why they had gone there, he got what to him was obviously a baffling reply: “It's called incarnational living. It's from John chapter 1. You know that bit about 'Jesus came among us.' It's all about living in the community rather than descending on it to preach.” It is telling that the phrase ‘incarnational living’ had to be explained, but there is all the same something a little disconcerting in hearing from the mouth of a Salvation Army officer an argument that you would normally expect to hear from the Catholic wing of Anglicanism. William Booth would surely have been a little disconcerted by that rider ‘rather than descending on it to preach’, because the early history and missiology of the Salvation Army, in its marching into working class areas and its street preaching, was precisely about cultural invasion, expressed in language of challenge, purification, conversion, and ‘saving souls’, and not characteristically in the language of incarnationalism. Yet it goes to show that the Army has not been immune to the broader history of Christian theology in this country, and that it too has been influenced by that current of ideas which first emerged clearly in the middle of the nineteenth century, and which has come to be called the Anglican tradition of social witness.



Building Community: Anglo-Catholicism and Social Action



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Generous Ecclesiology Church, World and the Kingdom of God

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SCM Press