By J. Rixey Ruffin

ISBN-10: 0195326512

ISBN-13: 9780195326512

ISBN-10: 1435620402

ISBN-13: 9781435620407

William Bentley, pastor in Salem, Massachusetts from 1783 to his loss of life in 1819, was once not like an individual else in America's founding new release, for he had come to certain conclusions approximately how top to take care of a conventional realizing of Christianity in a global ever altering via the forces of the Enlightenment. Like a few of his contemporaries, Bentley preached a liberal Christianity, with its benevolent God and salvation via ethical dwelling, yet he-and in New England he alone-also preached a rational Christianity, one who provided new and radical claims concerning the energy of God and the attributes of Jesus. Drawing on over 1000 of Bentley's sermons, J. Rixey Ruffin lines the evolution of Bentley's theology. Neither liberal nor deist, Bentley used to be as a substitute what Ruffin calls a "Christian naturalist," a believer within the biblical God and within the crucial Christian narrative but additionally in God's unwillingness to intervene in nature after the Resurrection. In adopting this kind of place, Bentley had driven his religion so far as he may well towards rationalism whereas nonetheless, he inspiration, calling it Christianity. yet this ebook is as a lot a social and political heritage of Salem within the early republic because it is an highbrow biography; it not just delineates Bentley's rules, yet probably extra vital, it unravels their social and political results. utilizing Bentley's outstanding diary and an unlimited archive of newspaper money owed, tax files, and electoral returns, Ruffin brings to lifestyles the sailors, widows, captains and retailers who lived with Bentley within the japanese parish of Salem. A Paradise of cause is a learn of the highbrow and tangible results of rational faith in mercantile Salem, of theology and philosophy but in addition of ideology: of the social politics of race and sophistication and gender, the ecclesiastical politics of multinational and dissent, the ideological politics of republicanism and classical liberalism, and the social gathering politics of Federalism and Democratic-Republicanism. In bringing to gentle the attention-grabbing lifestyles and regarded considered one of early New England's finest ancient figures, Ruffin deals a clean point of view at the formative negotiations among Christianity and the Enlightenment within the years of America's founding.

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Extra resources for A Paradise of Reason: William Bentley and Enlightenment Christianity in the Early Republic

Sample text

Indeed, when William Bentley was still a boy living in his grandfather’s large home facing the mill pond, Paine’s real estate holdings were the most valuable in the North End. In 1771, for example, there were eight warehouses owned by North Enders; Paine owned three of them, while no one else owned more than one. There were seven slaves in his tax ward; Paine owned two, while no one else owned more than one. There were six mills, of which Paine owned four, and only one man in the North End owned as much wharfage as he did.

Far from wishing to alleviate their responsibilities for maintaining a clergyman, the proprietors, were in fact happy to pay for their new minister and even to let the other parishioners off the hook altogether. Only the new wealth from privateering allowed them to do so, and in this mundane way if no other, the fight for political freedom had brought to the East Parish some spiritual freedom as well. This rivalry at the East Church between Arminianism and Calvinism illuminates one aspect of the liberating power of the American Revolution.

That is, 87 percent of the male proprietors had not yet met Diman’s experiential requirements for actual membership but were nonetheless committed enough to their church to purchase pews. Of these, a few were fishermen and a dozen or so were artisans, but, most important, twenty-one, or nearly two-thirds, were captains. These were men like Edward Allen, George Crowninshield, George Dodge, John Fiske, Edward Gibaut, Robert Stone, Nathaniel Silsbee, and Joseph White, men who the revolution on the corner of main and hardy 41 were not only captains but who had served as captains of privateers during the Revolution.

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A Paradise of Reason: William Bentley and Enlightenment Christianity in the Early Republic by J. Rixey Ruffin


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