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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/30048

Title: Boundless Dominion: Providence, Politics, and the Early Canadian Presbyterian Worldview, 1815-1875
Authors: McKim, Denis
Advisor: McGowan, Mark
Department: History
Issue Date: 16-Nov-2011
Abstract: Insofar as the word “Presbyterian” is recognized at all in the early twenty-first century, it is understood to be virtually synonymous with such terms as “austere” and “parochial.” Judging by the actions and attitudes of the denomination’s staunchest adherents in nineteenth-century Canada, such associations are by no means historically unfounded. Devout early Canadian Presbyterians exhibited an unmistakable capacity for,among other things, strict Sabbatarianism and sectarian conflict. Yet there was more to the denomination in nineteenth-century northern North America than an unbending insistence on the importance of Sabbath observance and a seemingly irrepressible penchant for inter- and intra-denominational disagreement, influential though such tendencies were. Early Canadian Presbyterianism was galvanized by an elaborate worldview, the essential characteristics of which contrast sharply with the denomination’s dour reputation. This worldview drew together members of an institutionally incoherent, geographically dispersed denomination and equipped them with an invigorating conceptual synthesis of distinctiveness, duty, and destiny. The central component of the Presbyterians’ worldview was a desire to facilitate God’s achievement of dominion, or spiritual sovereignty, over northern North America, and to promote an uncompromising Protestant piety as extensively and as energetically as possible throughout the wider world. The realization of these inter-related objectives hinged on the propagation at home and abroad of the denomination’s characteristic theological doctrines and liturgical practices. Fervent Presbyterians were convinced that, in combating sinfulness in nineteenth-century Canada as well as elsewhere in the world,virtue would prevail definitively over sinfulness and the groundwork would be laid for the Christian millennium, a glorious thousand-year age in which violence, poverty, and injustice would be entirely unknown.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/30048
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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