A Convert to Community

Dr Philip Lockley

in Visionary Religion and Radicalism in Early Industrial England

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199663873
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744792 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

A Convert to Community

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This chapter explores the early career and conversion to Southcottianism of James Elishama Smith – a key figure in the relation between millenarianism and social radicalism in the 1830s. Smith originally trained as a Church of Scotland minister. In 1828, he was convinced that the millennium was imminent by the preaching of Edward Irving – a member of the Albury Group of evangelicals, and a founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Smith adopted Irving’s pessimistic millennial beliefs for a period, before opting to join Wroe’s ‘Christian Israelite’ community at Ashton-under-Lyne in 1830. This chapter traces Smith’s shifting pre-1830 millennial beliefs in detail, as he exchanged a belief in the millennium based solely on scriptural interpretation for one based largely on revelations to modern prophets. It identifies Smith’s intellectual inheritance from Irving, and shows how his views on human action and divine agency altered with his conversion to the Southcottian tradition.

Keywords: albury Group; Christian Israelite; church of Scotland; evangelical; Edward Irving; prophecy; James Elishama Smith

Chapter.  7731 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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