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Date of Award

1986

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Supervisor

Dr. R. E. Rempel

Abstract

The present study is an attempt to describe and explain the institutional history and intellectual discussions of the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Britain during the period 1914-1945. Since its inception on December 31, 1914, the FOR has commonly been described by historians and other authors as an interdenominational Christian pacifist organization. Yet, the establishment and maintenance of peace was not the ultimate aim of the founding members. What they envisioned was the establishment or the Kingdom of God. Peace, they argued, would be an indubitable consequence of the Kingdom. However, FOR members often did not agree with one another about the method by which the Kingdom could be inaugurated. During the period discussed in this thesis, the FOR gradually narrowed its focus. From striving to achieve the Kingdom of God, which encompassed all aspects of life, the Fellowship shifted its attention to what are generally regarded as matters pertaining primarily to pacifism. By the advent of World War II, however, the wider perception of the FOR's mission had been reasserted by many members.

This pendular movement is described in the four parts of the thesis. Part I looks at the matrix out of which the FOR grew, the gestation period, the nature of the envisaged Kingdom, the growth and the activities of the Fellowship until the end of World War I. Part II, covering the period 1919-1929, surveys the FOR's internal struggles, the changing theological climate and the Fellowship's attempts, however unsuccessful, at creating a new society. During the 1930s, described in Part III, the FOR was largely a single issue interdenominational Christian pacifist organization, providing the churches and other pacifist organizations with a vast amount of literature on pacifism. During the second world war, discussed in Part IV, the FOR entered a new phase which yet invites comparison to 1914. The publications and activities, especially those of the second half of the war, readily recall the original FOR vision.

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