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This article is taken from PN Review 8, Volume 5 Number 4, July - September 1979.

Another Note on Non-Conformists Clyde Binfield

DONALD DAVIE'S "Note on Non-Confirmists" (PNR 5) needs some sort of reply from what Bernard Manning would have called Orthodox Dissent. The question is, could any Orthodox Dissenter reply as Donald Davie might like? This Orthodox Dissenter is a case in point. I live in a house whose guest bedroom is called the Cromwell Room and whose drawing-room is dominated by the painting of a Bradford worsted manufacturer proud of his mercantile descent from the Ejected of 1662, his death celebrated as it happens in (poor) verse by the man who became Orthodox Dissent's most significant theologian, P. T. Forsyth. Yet such is not in fact my inheritance, for my inheritance, like that of any Orthodox Dissenter, is too complex to allow what my temperament might suggest.

To explain this, some further autobiography is necessary. My Dissent, though Orthodox, and even typical, is more from my mother's side than my father's, its pattern defined irrevocably by the Methodist Revival. My grandfather was his town's first Labour Mayor, and forty years earlier his spiritual paths had been set by R. J. Campbell's New Theology. A dozen years before that, my grandmother had persuaded her father, against his judgment and interests, to vote in a parliamentary election for a Labour Electoral Association candidate. I was born, in short, into a world which despised church schools, distrusted private schools, placed its trust in the state, and did all these things motivated by religious beliefs whose logic should have led into ...


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