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A crown and a cross : the origins, development and decline of the methodist class meeting in 18th century England

Goodhead, Andrew Frank (2007) A crown and a cross : the origins, development and decline of the methodist class meeting in 18th century England. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis concerns the origins, development and decline of the Class Meeting. Section one contains an overview of religious and societal change from the sixteenth century onwards. The heritage of John and Charles Wesley is studied within this milieu, and the inheritance which John Wesley drew from that examined. The consideration of the Unitary Societies and Fetter Lane is both chronological and analytical, charting the methods adopted to accommodate a desire for association, and reviewing the distinctive purposes of each societal model. The study of English religious association has not been previously brought together in the manner of this thesis, and is vital to a full understanding of the following sections. The material collated for section two, the Class Meeting as the crown of Methodism is original, and draws on testimony, diary and journal records. Wesley's class was a successful conflation of disparate doctrines, and modelled growth in grace and holiness, which promoted a vital affective journey. An analysis of the primary aims of the class, which gave the Methodist people their distinct characteristics, is followed by a study of the social identity and group processes that occurred when prospective members considered joining the Methodists. Section three considers the Class Meeting's decline prior to Wesley's death in 1791. Using the work of Weber (routinisation), Durkheim (totemism) and Troeltsch (primary/secondary religion) as themes, the section evaluates reasons why the class became a cross. Journal, diary and testimonial material supports the Methodists' declining interest in the class which led to its irrelevance to a people seeking respectability. This thesis adds to the body of knowledge in relation to the Class Meeting by investigating the origins, rise and decline of the class in Wesley's lifetime, particularly through the use of social sciences to examine reasons for success and decline of the class.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Biblical Studies (Sheffield)
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2012 15:44
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3082

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