Horace Bushnell: Minister to a Changing America

Horace Bushnell: Minister to a Changing America

Horace Bushnell: Minister to a Changing America

Horace Bushnell: Minister to a Changing America

Excerpt

My purpose in this book has been to analyze the religious thought of Horace Bushnell and the emergence of his theology from his society and tradition. Because Bushnell had to interest and address the Protestant middle class of nineteenth-century America, the book has partly become a study of the concerns and values of this group; because Bushnell was a Congregational minister, it is also an interpretation of the adjustment of Christianity to a specific time and place. Undermined by apathy, science, republican enthusiasm, and middle-class pride, American religion in the nineteenth century faced a crisis that threatened to destroy it as a viable intellectual belief. Bushnell met this crisis so successfully that his work became a turning point in American Protestantism. I have traced here the interplay between secular pressures and religious thought; I have also tried to show how the Christian faith maintained its own challenge and imperatives during all adjustments.

The reformed faith of Luther and Calvin provides a pattern by which to define Bushnell's peculiar formulation of theology, for he inherited the modified Calvinism of New England, and throughout his life the New Testament, the work of Jonathan Edwards, and contemporary orthodoxy kept the perspectives of strict Calvinism before him. Though Calvinism by Bushnell's time was notorious for its "hard . . .

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