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The Evangelical party of the Church of England (the established church) flourished from 1789 to 1850, and during that time increasingly dominated many aspects of English life and, with its dissenting or nonconformist allies, was responsible for many of the attitudes today thought of as "Victorian." These heirs of the seventeenth-century Puritans believed

that human beings are corrupt and need Christ to save them — thus the emphasis upon puritanical morality and rigidity;

that (in sharp contrast to the High Church Tractarians) the church hierarchy and church ritual are not as crucial to individual salvation as a personal conversion based on an emotional, imaginative comprehension of both one's own innate depravity and Christ's redeeming sacrifice — thus the emphasis upon an essentially Romantic conception of religion that stressed imagination, intensity, and emotion, and also upon the Bible, which could provide such imaginative experience of the truths of religion. What effects would you guess Evangelicalism had upon fiction? Poetry?

that converted believers must demonstrate their spirituality by working for others — thus Evangelical zeal in missionary work, Bible societies, anti-slavery movements, and many social causes;

that the converted will be persecuted and that such persecution indicates the holiness of the believer (since Satan has much power over man and his world; see 1 above) — thus Evangelical willingness to speak on behalf of unpopular causes and, rather annoyingly to many contemporaries, to take any political, social, or religious opposition as a martyrdom;

that God arranged history and the Bible, of which every word was held to be literally true, according to elaborate codes and signals, particularly in the form of typology, an elaborate system of foreshadowings (or anticipations) of Christ in the Old Testament — thus Evangelical emphasis upon complex integrated symbolism and upon elaborate interpretation of everything from natural phenomena and contemporary history to works of art and literature.

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Last modified 1988; links last added 7 June 2007