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Christian totalitarianism: Joseph Oldham and Oxford 1937

Smith, Graeme R. 2001. Christian totalitarianism: Joseph Oldham and Oxford 1937. Political theology 3 (1) , pp. 32-46.

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The article examines the Oxford Conference of the Universal Christian Council for Life and Work, 1937. In particular it explores the work of Joseph Oldham who was the main organiser behind the conference and its three-year preparatory process. It is argued that Oxford 1937 sought to analyse the causes of the rise of totalitarian regimes, especially in Germany. The reports of the conference demonstrate that modernity, understood as individualism, pluralism, urbanization and industrialization, was perceived as the primary reason why totalitarianism was popular. People, it was suggested, felt insecure, lost and lonely because of the effects of modernity and therefore turned to what might be called pre-modern, collectivist regimes for security. It is then argued that Oxford 1937, inspired and led by Oldham, proposed a form of Christian totalitarianism as a response to the rise of political totalitarianisms. In other words the conference did not reject the form and structure of totalitarianism but rather its content. This it did in opposition to a few contemporary commentators who suggested a more liberal political response to the rise of totalitarianism.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
J Political Science > JC Political theory
ISSN: 1462-317X
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2013 14:57

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