Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Arts
There has been very little scholarship in recent years which provides a detailed analysis of Christian support for the First World War in Canada. This work attempts to fill this gap with respect to the Presbyterian Church in Canada. It is a thorough analysis of the Presbyterian periodicals in war and peace between 1913 and 1919. The work is presented as a contribution to our understanding of Canada's Great War experience. One of the few academic articles which examined Protestant support for the war was the influential article 'The Methodist Church and World War I'. In this article, published in the Canadian Historical Review in 1968, Michael Bliss argues that the Methodist Church accepted what he regards as the 'paradox of fighting for peace because its leaders were misled about the nature and purposes of the war. This argument has been echoed in subsequent studies of Canadian attitude towards conflict and appears to be the most widely accepted view of church support for the First World War. More recent general studies of Canadian attitudes during the Great War have emerged, influenced by Fritz Fischer and the belief that Germany sought war in 1914 and pursued a policy to bring Europe under German control. Recent scholarship also suggests that Allied perceptions of German behaviour in Belgium and Northern France were largely correct. The four main periodicals for the Presbyterian Church in Canada were examined thoroughly over a period of six years and an attempt was made to read and include as many editorials articles, letters and other contributions which reflected Presbyterian opinion about the war. The changing pattern of Presbyterian discussion demonstrated a deliberate, intelligent and continuous effort to reconcile war and Christianity. The evidence would suggest that Presbyterians understood what was at stake and why they were fighting the war. They fought based on a perception of the enemy that was largely correct and for the principles of truth, righteousness and in defence of the weak. The war was just.
Fowler, Michelle, "Keeping the faith: The Presbyterian press in peace and war, 1913-1919" (2005). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 43.