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Baptists in British Columbia : a struggle to maintain "sectarianism"

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Title: Baptists in British Columbia : a struggle to maintain "sectarianism"
Author: Richards, John Byron
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program History
Copyright Date: 1964
Subject Keywords Baptists -- Bristish Columbia
Abstract: It is generally agreed that Baptists represent one of the largest bodies of "sectarian" opinion. The term "sectarianism" is used in a sociological rather than a polemical or derogatory sense. It serves to indicate the basic attitude of a socially exclusive or "sect-type" religious organization as differentiated from a "church-type", or socially inclusive and accommodative, religious body. Until recently it has been an accepted procedure to explain religious diversity in purely theological terms. Since the turn of the century an effort has been made to examine the social and economic factors in religious development. The "frontier thesis" has been evoked to explain sectarianism, and sociologists have tended to place all their conclusions within the framework of environmental determinism. Such an approach appears to involve a denial of the intrinsic validity and spiritual relevance of theological ideas. It is the contention of this thesis that religious diversity among Baptists in British Columbia is to be explained both in terms of environmental influences and in terms of ideas which were "imported" from the Old World and the United States. In the Christian tradition such ideas came mediately from Western Europe, which in turn had "imported" them from Palestine. Immediately, these ideas came from the Scriptures, which were regarded by sectarians as authoritative. While the author holds to the intrinsic validity of Biblical theological concepts, no attempt is made here to substantiate this view, this task being left to the Christian apologist. Within the scope of this thesis it shall suffice to demonstrate that Baptists in British Columbia were strongly influenced by the "imported1' ideas of Biblical theology and by the "imported" concepts of religious liberalism. The frontier environment was not the originator of these ideas, but gave an opportunity for the free interplay of these ideas. The net result of this interplay in British Columbia has been Baptist groups which bear a resemblance to Old World counterparts, and which, at the same time, bear the stamp of American influence and Canadian national characteristics. British Columbia Baptists are what they are because of economic, social, theological and spiritual factors. None of these factors can be completely segregated and viewed in splendid isolation. Baptist sectarianism is related not only to society but also to the ideas of the New Testament. In the British Columbia context, "the struggle to maintain sectarianism" was a struggle to maintain the sectarian interpretation of New Testament principles, in spite of the challenge of other theological ideas, in the milieu of the social and economic influences of frontier and modern society.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/38368
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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