A genuinely human existence: an historical investigation into the conflicted life of Bishop Stephen Neill up to the termination of his bishopric (1945)
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AbstractThis thesis focuses on bishop and scholar Stephen Neill (1900-1984), one of the most important figures on the world Christian scene during the twentieth century. The present work explores the first half of Neill's life, using Stephen Neill as a case study to explore larger issues. Neill's stellar student career in England and his turbulent tenure in south India as an Anglican missionary provide a touchstone for investigating his times. Neill's was a remarkable life, useful for exploring the larger contexts ofwhich he was a part. The thesis for the present work is as follows: "Neill's was a conflicted life, marked by a conflicted childhood and youth, a conflicted faith, a conflicted south Indian diocese, and conflicted times." While Stephen Neill's intellectual gifts were obvious to all, affording him many opportunities, his life was rife with struggles, conflict, and discord. The struggles were obvious in the various ruptures that riddled the first half of his life. The most obvious examples of this were his falling-out with Amy Carmichael at Dohnavur, India, in 1924-25, and then later the loss of his bishopric in Tinnevelly, India, in 1944-45. Neill's conflict was not always with other people; it was just as often a personal struggle. Neill was never satisfied; he was constantly trying to improve himself as well as others. When in power, he could be authoritarian, dictatorial, and exacting. These traits often led him into places of leadership, but they also led to discord. While he certainly had the ingenuity and the tools to succeed at whatever he did, dissonance was always present. Perhaps this dissonance is what motivated one to characterize Neill's life as "a story of contrasts" and to describe Neill as a "much tempted, brilliant, enigmatic man.”1. 1. E. M. Jackson, ed., God's Apprentice: The Autobiography of Stephen Neill with a foreword by C. F. D. Moule (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1991), pp. 7-8.
Bibliography: p. 361-379