Revd Christopher Stuart
The doctrine of the Incarnation has been a recurring theme in English Anglican thought for much of the Church's history. Indeed, the distinctive, central role given to the Incarnation has been cited - controversially - as a defining characteristic of that tradition. Yet in spite of this, Anglicanism's account of the doctrine has rarely been the subject of critical systematic study.
This thesis aims to contribute to our understanding of the Incarnation in Anglican thought. It focuses on two of the leading Anglican thinkers of the twentieth century, William Temple and Michael Ramsey. Their writing alone would make them a significant subject of study, but their elevation to Canterbury offers an added significance: their thinking may not have been representative of all within Anglicanism, but it was at least sufficiently representative to make their elevation acceptable to the Church. A close comparison of their thought can throw subtle elements into relief, whilst also contributing towards the debate about Anglicanism's distinctive doctrinal character.
The thesis attempts a close reading not only of their published works, but also the substantial body of unpublished sermons, letters and other writings in the archives at Lambeth Palace Library. It sets out to understand not only their account of the incarnation event - why did it occur, to what purpose - but also the contextual factors (theological, philosophical, social and political) influencing each man's presentation of the doctrine. Of central concern is the inter-relationship between the Incarnation and the human condition, and in particular concepts of 'fellowship' and 'sin/atonement' in each writer's work.
- Systematic theology
- the Incarnation