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Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'The Social and Political Thought of the Oxford Movement$
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S. A. Skinner

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273232

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273232.001.0001

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The Church and the Poor: ‘The poor man’s court of justice’

The Church and the Poor: ‘The poor man’s court of justice’

(p.255) 6 The Church and the Poor: ‘The poor man’s court of justice’
Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'

S. A. Skinner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses tractarian championship of the poor in Victorian England. In its most immediate form, this was seen in the strictures of the journalism and fiction over the working conditions of the urban and rural labouring classes. Tractarians uniformly asserted the special role of the poor in the church, and the spiritual ascendancy of the poor over their temporal betters. The novelists' depictions of the gnomic sagacity and saintly resignation of the labouring poor illustrated the maxim that the poor had everything to teach the wealthy — an imperative of the direct personal charity urged by tractarians and discussed in the preceding chapter. Polemically, tractarians deduced from their incarnational theology a language of ‘Christian equality’, whose terms were not just to make everlasting redress for those earthly inequalities which tractarians thought providentially ordained. All commentators emphasised the duty of the church to act as ‘the poor man's court of justice’, a sanctuary from the inevitable oppressions of the world. This chapter also looks at the tractarianists' views on Christ's incarnation, poverty, and the condition of the working classes in England.

Keywords:   poor, Christian equality, church, incarnation, working classes, poverty

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