Until recently the British Labour movement seemed to have lost touch with its Christian roots. Many leading members of the Labour Party were confessedly secular. But the triumph of the New Right and the collapse of Communism forced the Left to redefine socialism. Church leaders also encouraged people to be critical of the prevailing ideology. Some discovered an alternative in the Christian Socialist tradition, which became much better known when Tony Blair and other noted figures described how their political beliefs derived from their Christian faith.
This current resurgence of Christian Socialism makes a reassessment of its history particularly timely. In this book, an expanded version of the 1998 Scott Holland Lectures, Alan Wilkinson sketches the nineteenth-century background to the Christian Socialism of F.D. Maurice, analyses the new mutation promoted by Henry Scott Holland and Charles Gore, and shows how this influenced R.H. Tawny and William Temple. He describes how such different figures as Neville Figgis and George MacLeod explored the nature of community and why some Christian Socialists were attracted to Roman Catholic social teaching. He also discusses those who have found the main Christian Socialist tradition too tame, such as Alan Ecclestone, Donald Soper, and Kenneth Leech. The book concludes with a survey of Christian Socialist politicians.