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William Temple (1881-1944) was probably the most influential British theologian in the first half of the 20th century. He was not only the Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-44), he was also a convinced Christian Socialist, although he never established a doctrinal synthesis between Christianity and socialism. He saw the church’s task as winning the world for the Kingdom of God.
At the centre of his faith, his theology, and his philosophy was the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. He said “the whole of my theology is an attempt to understand and verify the words ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’.”
In 1941 he presided over the ‘Malvern Conference’ of COPEC, the Conference on Politics, Economics and Citizenship; the theme was the role of Christians in a society of unemployment and poverty. Temple’s line was that the church should use its moral influence to create a political climate favourable to structural reforms.
In 1943, he spoke to bankers on ‘A Christian view of the right relationship between Finance, Production and Consumption’. He enunciated the basic Christian ethical principles which he said should always determine their decision making.
These can be found in his 2 books:
‘Men without work’
‘Christianity and social order.’
(i) Carey, P.W. and Lienhard, J.T. eds “Biographical Dictionary of Christian theologians” Greenwood (2000)
(ii) Walsh, M. ed “Dictionary of Christian Biography” Continuum (2001)
(ii) Bowden, J. ed “Christianity: the complete guide” Continuum (2005)