History of American Congregationalism

History of American Congregationalism

History of American Congregationalism

History of American Congregationalism

Excerpt

Toward the end of the last centuryWilliston Walker, then Professor of Church History in Hartford Theological Seminary, wrote A History of the Congregational Churches in America for the American Church History series. Dr.Walker has put all American church historians deeply in his debt for his profound scholarship and his books have been standard. But great chapters in all history have been written in the last fifty years and there have been highly important developments in Congregationalism which now merit record and recognition. It has seemed to representatives of the Congregational fellowship, therefore, that the time had come for another history of their beginnings and subsequent fortunes and achievements. This book is the result.

It has been written in collaboration, and the division of labor between the two authors is evident in its structure and organization. But some of the later chapters are of composite authorship and throughout the whole really demanding enterprise there has been, between the writers, a constant interchange of suggestion and mutual criticism. There is in the book some measure of repetition; this both the reader and the critic will note. That was inevitable, though the authors have sought to reduce it to a minimum.

There are differences of opinion between all authoritative students as to the confused beginnings of English Separatism and Independency. The statements herein contained are supported by dependable documentation, but the specialist may find occasion for disagreement. All possible pains have been taken to achieve accuracy in names, dates, and facts. If there are still errors they should not, the authors trust, affect the general accuracy of the narrative.

The authors confess their affection for the Fellowship of Churches to which they belong, their pride in its achievements, and their confidence in its principles. So much the critic will soon discern for himself. But they have not, they hope, permitted their loyalties to cloud their critical faculties. They have not minimized the more unhappy phases of early American Puritanism, nor failed to recognize the significant contribution of other communions to American religious life through any sectarian concern.

They trust that the appendices and bibliography may be of service to students not only of Congregationalism, but of American religious history generally. They have sought to acknowledge their many in-

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