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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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The ‘most spiritually destitute and degraded’

The ‘most spiritually destitute and degraded’

Missions to the Poor

(p.125) 6 The ‘most spiritually destitute and degraded’
The Dissenters Volume III

Michael R. Watts

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the failed efforts of the Dissenters to evangelize the poor in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Faced with the growing acceptance of the theory of evolution and of higher criticism, with increased scepticism as to the morality of hell-fire preaching, with the loss of middle-class members to Anglicanism and to hedonism, and with the apparently intractable problem of winning over the poor, the Nonconformist churches resorted to desperate measures. These include relaxing the hitherto strict rules required for entry into membership; dropping their demand that their members be separated from the world; and competing with the world in the provision of educational, social, and recreation facilities, many of which their forefathers would have regarded as anathema.

Keywords:   poor, Dissenters, Evangelicals, poor, Nonconformist churches

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