The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Research Article

Victorian Anglican Evangelicalism: The Radical Legacy of Edward Irving


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This article considers the radical contribution of Edward Irving to mid-Victorian Anglican Evangelicalism, in an analysis of nineteenth-century Anglican Evangelical theology and spirituality, political and social thought and missionary activity. While historians of doctrine have acknowledged the influence of aspects of Irving's thought upon liberal Anglicans like F. D. Maurice, they have paid scant attention to Irving's influence upon the theology of Evangelical churchmen. Irving's legacy was, in fact, an important and positive force for theological change. This article also challenges the conventional historical view that Evangelical churchmen produced only negative polemical works in response to the innovatory approaches of Oxford Movement and ‘Broad Church’ theologians. It considers, in particular, the work of the leading Anglican Evangelical theologian Thomas Rawson Birks, which was shaped by the legacy of Irving and has many significant parallels with that of Maurice.


The author thanks the anonymous reviewer for this Journal and the editors for their comments on an earlier version of this article.