Evangelical “Others” in Ulster, 1859-1912: Social Profile, Unionist Politics, and “Fundamentalism”

Andrew R. Holmes, Stuart Mathieson

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Abstract

This article considers the existence of a distinctive form of fundamentalism in the northern-Irish province of Ulster. It does so by examining the Protestant minorities that grew significantly in the decades after the Ulster revival of 1859. These evangelical others are important because their members were more likely to have fundamentalist tendencies than those who belonged to the main Protestant churches. The existing scholarship on fundamentalism in Northern Ireland focuses on Ian Paisley (1926–2014), who was a life-long adversary of Irish republican separatism and a self-identified fundamentalist. Yet, the focus on Paisley draws attention away from the potential origin of fundamentalism in the early twentieth century that is associated with religious revival in the early 1920s and the heresy trial of a “modernist” Presbyterian professor in 1927. George Marsden's classic study defined fundamentalism as an American phenomenon, yet, with Paisley and developments in the 1920s in mind, he noted that “Ulster appears to be an exception.”1 To what extent was that true? Was there a constituency of potential fundamentalists in the north of Ireland in the early twentieth century? If there was, did the social and political circumstances of the region and period produce a distinctive Ulster variety of fundamentalism?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847 - 872
JournalChurch History
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2021

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