Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury: Incarnational Anglicanism and British Society, 1928-1974

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Title: Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury: Incarnational Anglicanism and British Society, 1928-1974
Author: Kaiser, Austin
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes the theology and politics of Michael Ramsey between his ordination in 1928 and his retirement in 1974. Ramsey entered the priesthood after a burgeoning career in law and Liberal politics. I argue that Ramsey's later political activism as Archbishop of Canterbury was a continuation of his early political engagement at Cambridge. However, the Anglican Incarnational theological tradition exemplified in the writings of F. D. Maurice, Charles Gore, and William Temple exerted a powerful influence on Ramsey's politics after he entered the priesthood. This dissertation locates Ramsey within that Incarnational tradition, and I argue that the Incarnation was the locus not only of his theological writings and his historical writings on Anglican theology, but also of his political activism in the 1960s and early 1970s. I draw heavily on unpublished letters and autobiographical essays from the Ramsey Papers at Lambeth Palace, as well as on his speeches to ordinands and in House of Lords. Two chapters contain analyses of nearly all of Ramsey's published corpus, with one devoted to his historical writings and the other to his social theological writings. A third chapter analyzes three examples of Ramsey's activism at Canterbury (on legal reform for homosexual acts, the Rhodesian crisis of 1965, and Commonwealth immigration) within the context of his Incarnational social theology. I argue that the primary issue for Ramsey in each example was the affirmation of human dignity and conscience, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, and that his belief in the post-Incarnational sanctification of humankind led him to emphasize the social values that he did.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/12367
Date: 2012

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