This dissertation draws on printed and manuscript sources to provide a detailed look at parish life in the west of Scotland during the eighteenth century, examining how this society moved from Reformation to Enlightenment at the local level. It argues that religious culture in this region around 1700 is not best characterized in terms of "official religion" and "popular religion," but rather as a "folk Calvinism" substantially shared by clergy and laity and by elites and the very humble. This folk Calvinism came under increasing challenge from a new worldview related to emerging Enlightenment thought in the metropole and to a new theology among the clerical avant-garde in the international Reformed world. From a religious culture all but universally shared in this region, "folk Calvinism" became a provincial culture which opposed the new, cosmopolitan religious culture of lay and clerical elites oriented toward England, Europe, and the republic of letters. The two religious cultures clashed dramatically in the so-called "violent settlements" of the 1760s-80s, when cosmopolitan gentry sought to impose enlightened pastors on the parishes, and were resisted by an organized and surprisingly articulate campaign of petitioning, theological critique, non-compliance, and even rioting by parish traditionalists. These events were followed by the formation of competing churches (many vibrantly evangelical) and the erosion of the universal discipline for which Calvinism has been notorious, creating a society where many individuals were zealously and traditionally devout, but no one religious culture held a position of hegemony. Century's end in the west of Scotland saw the emergence of plebeian anti-Calvinists like John Goldie and Robert Burns--a striking change from what earlier appeared the strong correlation between enlightened religion and elite social status--but a sizable and passionate minority of "enthusiastic," traditionalist Christians continued to flourish. The paper argues that modernity means not particular substantive views (e.g., optimism about human nature, trust in unaided reason), but rather this resulting condition of plurality, the inability of any one worldview to achieve the kind of hegemony held before these events by Calvinism.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: History. Advisor: James D. Tracy. 1 computer file (PDF); ii, 376 pages.
Brekke, Luke G..
'In an age so enlightened, enthusiasm so extravagant': popular religion in Enlightenment Scotland, 1712-1791".
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