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Victorian Reformation The Fight Over Idolatry in the Church of England, 1840-1860

Janes, Dominic


In early Victorian England, the cross was widely thought to be a deadly idol that led worshippers to the devil. This volume is a study of the intense anxieties surrounding “idolatry,” which was in a narrow sense, the worship of idols, but also devotion to anything that intervened between the believer and God. In early Victorian England there was intense interest in understanding the early Church as an inspiration for contemporary sanctity. One aspect of this was a surge in archaeological enquiry and the construction of new churches using medieval models. A number of Anglicans began to use a much more complex form of ritual involving vestments, candles, and incense. They were opposed by evangelicals and dissenters on the grounds that this represented the vanguard of popery. The disputed buildings, objects, and artworks were regarded by one side as impure additions to holy worship, and by the other as sacred and beautiful expressions of devotion. Dominic Janes grapples with these accusations of idolatry and the fierce passions that were thereby unleashed.

Additional Information

  • Hardback
  • 237 Pages
  • Published: December 2011
  • ISBN: 9780195378511
  • Series: Religion, Culture, and History

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