Christian Socialism arose in England in the mid-nineteenth century as a response to the philosophy of ‘political economy’ – now commonly called neoliberalism. Seeking not institutional change or nationalisation, but a reform of the moral underpinnings of society, it refuted the assumption that people are essentially selfish, competitive individuals seeking nothing but personal happiness. Although they did not deny the presence of selfishness, its proponents believed that the social nature of humankind lies deeper than such egotism and conflict, and pursued a society built on this belief.
Less prominent now than at the time of its inception, Christian Socialism nevertheless continues into the twenty-first century, its goal nothing less than a new society built upon the virtues of equality, fellowship, cooperation, service and justice. Philip Turner’s careful exposition traces the history of this strand of Anglican political thought and restores confidence in its message for the future.
Endorsements and Reviews
Turner’s elegant volume casts a welcome light on the Anglican Christian Socialist tradition, from the nineteenth century to the present. While the book lays bare some of the flaws of this movement, more importantly Turner illuminates the positive challenges and promises that its proponents – people like Maurice, Tawney, Gore, or Williams and Milbank – still offer to the diseased and fractured life of contemporary liberal society.
Ephraim Radner, Wycliffe College
Philip Turner has produced a timely book that reclaims the insights of the Christian Socialist movement in the Church of England, tracing its roots and analyzing its present-day influence. Turner values this tradition’s emphasis upon ideals, but tempers it with his own emphasis on the church’s practice of the virtues. In a political climate where ‘socialism’ is bound for reappraisal, Turner’s book is invaluable.
John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee
In a time of mounting concern over inequality in our society, the nineteenth-century Christian Socialists suddenly seem strangely relevant. Philip Turner offers a sober and unsentimental assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. His treatment of the theopolitics of Rowan Williams and John Milbank brings the story up to date in an engaging, lively way.
Joseph Mangina, University of Toronto