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dc.contributor.advisorCooper, Tim
dc.contributor.advisorGuy, Laurie
dc.contributor.authorTucker, John Harvey
dc.identifier.citationTucker, J. H. (2010). A Braided River: New Zealand Baptists and Public Issues 1882-2000 (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description1 v. (various paging) :ill. (some col.), maps (some col., some folded) ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. University of Otago department: Theology and Religion.
dc.description.abstractThis thesis examines various attempts by New Zealand Baptists to engage with social and political issues. It does this by exploring ten significant public debates that occurred between 1882 and 2000 and attempting to identify a range of broad themes and trends. A number of methodologies have been utilised across several disciplines. The study draws heavily on written artefacts, both published statements and unpublished manuscripts, but also makes use of personal interviews with surviving leaders of the Baptist movement in twentieth-century New Zealand. It attempts to utilise the insights of social historians, on the one hand, but also those of intellectual historians and historical theologians, on the other. It focuses on Baptists in New Zealand, but also tries to make connections with the experience of other denominations and other countries. The thesis attempts to answer three main questions. First, to what extent did New Zealand Baptists attempt to reshape their society through public debate? It is argued that in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries an influential stream of Baptists was vocal on a wide range of social issues. While Baptist efforts were mainly channelled into crusades on issues of personal morality, a number of Baptists also spoke against unjust social and economic structures. By the 1950s, however, and increasingly from the 1970s, there was an evident decline in the level and breadth of Baptist engagement in public debate. The second question driving this thesis concerns the elements which have influenced Baptist involvement in debate. How have shifting theological currents or developments within secular thought or the wider social environment affected the flow of Baptist discourse? This study concludes that the Baptist movement’s evangelical priorities largely determined the issues on which they focused their attention, the style of their engagement, and the timing of their withdrawal. Besides this, however, traditional Baptist ecclesiology and wider theological developments were also significant, as were the contours of secular thought and culture. Finally, this thesis examines the effect of Baptist participation in public debate. What did it achieve? In alliance with other churches and other groups, Baptists made an important contribution to public debate in New Zealand. They won numerous, though limited, victories in the area of alcohol licensing and gambling. They played an important role in the suspension of compulsory military training and the emergence of the welfare state. However, their style of engagement had its weaknesses. By the end of the twentieth century, as issues became highly politicised, society more secular, and churches more polarised, Baptists found engaging in public debate more difficult. The stream of Baptists that had been committed to social renewal though social and political action largely dried up. If the New Zealand Baptist movement was to reengage significantly in public debate it would need to discover a new vision and strategy for social reform.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectChurch history
dc.subjectBaptist churches
dc.subjectSocial issues
dc.titleA Braided River: New Zealand Baptists and Public Issues 1882-2000
dc.language.rfc3066en and Religious Studies of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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