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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 seal and servant of Christianity’

‘The seal and servant of Christianity’

The Spiritualist Alternative

(p.36) 5 ‘The seal and servant of Christianity’
The Dissenters Volume III

Michael R. Watts

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the emergence of the Spiritualist movement as an alternative defence of Christianity. The movement began in the United States and reached England in 1852. In its first two decades in England, Spiritualism won a number of distinguished converts including Robert Owen, the Socialist pioneer; Robert Chambers, the author of the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation; and Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Spiritualism struck a particularly resonant chord with people familiar with the writings of the eighteenth-century Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. Several Dissenters acknowledged that the writings of Swedenborg facilitated their acceptance of Spiritualism.

Keywords:   religious dissent, Christianity, supernatural, Spiritualist movement, Dissenters, Emanuel Swedenborg, Robert Owen, Robert Chambers, Alfred Russel Wallace

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