Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Gary Badcock



This thesis explores the ecclesiology of the American theologian John Williamson Nevin (1803-1886) and its relationship to the wider “church question” of the nineteenth century. It will argue that Nevin’s “high church” theology defended the freedom of the church against both theological and political obstacles. Nevin maintained that the American church must establish an identity separate from modern “Puritanism,” as expressed through revivalism, rationalism and sectarianism. Crucially, Nevin was aided in this struggle by the insights of the Oxford Movement. It is a common misperception that the Oxford Movement never influenced American Protestantism. This thesis will contend that Nevin proves to be an exception to this rule and that his work can only be understood in relation to the theological insights of the Oxford Movement. In this respect Nevin was unique when compared with many nineteenth century American Protestants, and deserves wider recognition for his unique contribution to theology.