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The Rationale for the Incarnation and the Place of Substitutionary Atonement in the Thought of William Temple and Michael Ramsey: A Comparative Study

STUART, CHRISTOPHER,JOHN (2013) The Rationale for the Incarnation and the Place of Substitutionary Atonement in the Thought of William Temple and Michael Ramsey: A Comparative Study. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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William Temple (1881-1944) and Michael Ramsey (1904-1988) are two of the leading Anglican intellectuals of the twentieth century. Their significance does not just lie in the quality of their intellect. Each served as Archbishop of Canterbury during their career; that essentially representative role heightens the sense of the significance of their work to an understanding of Anglican thought during the period. Yet surprisingly little has been written on Temple and Ramsey’s theology, and there have been no attempts to give a detailed, systematic account of their thought.

Such a comprehensive study lies beyond the scope of this thesis. Yet the research does seek to contribute to an understanding of Temple and Ramsey’s thought. The thesis has its origins in an incidental remark made by Professor David Brown, who commented that Anglican theologians of the twentieth century had tended to downplay the role of substitutionary atonement in their theological schema. This raised a fundamental question: what impact might such a downplaying have at the wider level of systematic theology? How might it mould their account of the Incarnation, and how might that, in turn, shape their wider thought?

This thesis does not set out to test Brown’s claim for a downplaying of substitutionary atonement, but it does – incidentally – show that Temple and Ramsey are examples of the trend. Rather, the focus is on Temple and Ramsey’s rationale for the Incarnation, and the place of substitutionary atonement within it. As such, it addresses a significant gap in understanding of their thought. Its central claim is that Temple and Ramsey understood the Incarnation not, primarily as a response to sin, but as a sacrificial means of deepening the union between God and humanity. At the core of their rationale for the Incarnation, it is argued, is the eternal divine purposive desire for fellowship, and not the exigent necessity of substitutionary atonement.

There are two ancillary areas of study. First, the question of the compatibility of their respective accounts of the Incarnation. Arguing for a high level of coherence within and between their accounts, the thesis suggests that such compatibility underlines the significance of their Christology for an understanding of wider Anglican thought during the period. Secondly, the thesis tentatively highlights ways in which each man’s rationale for the Incarnation impacts on their wider thought, not least their ecclesiology.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:William Temple; Michael Ramsey; Incarnation; Anglican Theology - Twentieth Century; Substitutionary Atonement
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 Jul 2013 10:30

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