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The Dissenters Volume IIIThe Crisis and Conscience of Nonconformity$
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Michael R. Watts

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198229698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198229698.001.0001

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‘Conversion is not necessary to regeneration’

‘Conversion is not necessary to regeneration’

The Failure of Recruitment

(p.92) 2 ‘Conversion is not necessary to regeneration’
The Dissenters Volume III

Michael R. Watts

Oxford University Press

The hold which the Christian denominations of England and Wales, and the Nonconformist denominations in particular, had over the peoples of those countries went into irreversible decline in the 1880s and 1890s. This chapter considers whether the decline in church membership and church- and chapel-going was caused by the loss of existing church members and adherents, or the failure of the churches to recruit new members. Evidence suggests that liberal Nonconformists, in trying to adapt their religious beliefs to meet the challenges posed by evolution, higher criticism, and the reaction against eternal punishment, blunted the edge of the Gospel they preached and undermined their ability to win convert.

Keywords:   Christianity, Christians, Nonconformists, church membership, chapel attendance

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