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The Empire's Titanic Struggle: Victorian Methodism and the Great War

O'Brien, Glen (2013) The Empire's Titanic Struggle: Victorian Methodism and the Great War. Aldersgate Papers, 10. pp. 50-70. ISSN ISSN 2201-0063

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This paper examines the response of the Victoria and Tasmania Conference of the Methodist Church to the First World War, with particular reference to the Rev. A. T. Holden, Methodist Chaplain-General to the Commonwealth Military Forces, and President of the Conference in 1915. It argues that the Church’s initial response to the War was restrained and cautious, resisting the demonisation of the enemy, and expressing disapproval of armed conflict between professedly Christian nations as incompatible with the teaching of the New Testament. As the conflict escalated, however, the Church’s discourse shifted toward one more supportive of the British imperial agenda and its ‘struggle against barbarism.’ A. T. Holden was a shaping influence on broader Methodist sentiment in this direction. Methodists made their contribution to the formation of the Anzac myth with their published reports of the heroism of the Australian soldier and spent much effort ministering to the spiritual and physical needs of military camps. Australian Methodists shared the imperial sentiment common among Australians in the Edwardian period and became willing to make any sacrifices necessary to assist the Empire in its ‘titanic struggle’ against what it considered the forces of barbarism. Among these sacrifices were the more peaceful religious ideals exhibited during the earlier stages of the conflict.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Published Version
Keywords: History of Methodism, History of Australian Methodism, Australian religious history, Australian military history, the Great War (1914-1918), First World War (1914-1918)
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950406 Religious Traditions (excl. Structures and Rituals)
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: C - Church History
College/Association with University of Divinity: SABC: Salvation Army Booth College
Depositing User: Rev Associate Professor Glen O'Brien
Date Deposited: 11 May 2016 03:04
Last Modified: 11 May 2016 03:04
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1963

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