Three Ways of Looking at an Episcopalian
The world of the Episcopal Church between the Civil War and the Great Depression was one of considerable complexity and ferment, with consequences far beyond the internecine struggles among High, Low, and Broad Church factions as portrayed in traditional history. Episcopalians were also emerging at this time as a distinctive social configuration—a national elite. The question of whether Episcopalians were essentially Evangelical Protestants or Reformed Catholics reemerged after the Civil War, leading to the development of the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1871. Alternatively, the Broad Church movement essentially was an attempt to adapt the best from modern thought and culture to the purposes of the church. Most generally, the major contribution of the Episcopal Church to American life was a religious legitimization of the material realm, not only as a not fatally contaminated by sinfulness but as an authentic means for the experience of divine grace. Another major theme in American Episcopal life was philanthropy, a subject intimately involved with money.
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