A Crisis of Faith, Scary Popes, and William Gladstone

Main Article Content

Josh Jackson, Class of 2018


William Gladstone presided as Prime Minister of Great Britain on four separate occasions between 1868 to 1894. Gladstone was preoccupied both personally and politically with religion, and his personal faith journey reflected the larger crisis of faith occurring in Britain in the nineteenth century as secularism and urbanization began to erode the place of faith in common life. Many scholars have referred to this period as the “Victorian Crisis of Faith.” This paper examines his personal diaries and extensive writings to understand his zest for religion, primarily regarding the supposed papal aggression of 1850 in Great Britain and his personal faith crises. The significance of this paper is that it highlights how both personally and politically this key leader was working to understand the role of religion in public life in nineteenth-century Great Britain.


Comments from Mentors

“In recent years, few voices on this campus possess the authority to speak on the dynamic relationship between Texas Christian University and its founding denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as Josh Jackson. Beyond the outstanding academic accomplishments pursuant to his graduation from TCU in 2018, Josh is already a leader in the church as much as he was a leader during his years on campus. His new voice offers the proper, contemporary analysis of a university birthed by a denomination that values academic inquiry, and how that denomination is likewise influenced by the university. Now pursuing a rigorous preparation for ministry at Vanderbilt Divinity School in its Master of Divinity program, I am confident that Josh’s voice will only become more influential in the church, the academy, the culture, or wherever God carries him in his ministry.” 

– Rev. Lea McCracken 

“I had the privilege of working with Josh in two of my classes—20th Century Britain and British Prime Ministers—in addition to getting to know him as his major advisor. Josh is a hard-working and inquisitive scholar who engages energetically and thoughtfully with his classmates. I was delighted to work with him on his senior thesis, ‘A Crisis of Faith, Scary Popes, and William Gladstone,’ which is grounded in a wide reading of the private diaries kept by the three-time prime minister of the United Kingdom, William Ewart Gladstone. I especially applaud Josh for overcoming his early struggles to define his project, and it was a joy to see how his immersion in the primary sources allowed him to become a master story-teller about the evolution of Gladstone’s spiritual life. Moreover, Josh brought his trademark humor and liveliness to the project, which was honored as the first-place paper at the AddRan Festival of Creativity and Scholarship in April 2018. I could not be prouder of Josh and his work.”

William Meier 

 “Josh Jackson turned two of his passions into an academic inquiry. The first is his life-long commitment to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The second passion is his deep love for all things TCU. Most students don’t even know that TCU has a history tied to the first of Josh’s passions, but Josh certainly did. How do these two communities (the Disciples of Christ and TCU) intersect? To tackle this beginning research question, he tracked down elements of the TCU story by poking through old musty books and by digging in the campus archives. He also looked into some regional archives, all in an attempt to understand how the church connection that emerged as part of Addison and Randolph Clark’s original vision has changed over the years. A Religion and History double major, Josh was the perfect person to explore this topic.”

Nadia M. Lahutsky 

Article Details

AddRan College of Liberal Arts