The Critical Theology of Theodore Parker

By John Edward Dirks | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

THEODORE PARKER has often been referred to as an important figure in the history of American ideas. His sermons and many of his other writings have been collected and published; many excellent biographical accounts are available.1 Nevertheless, Parker's importance is said to rest only on his remarkable erudition, his ability as a preacher, and his extravagant efforts toward moral reform. His critical theological endeavors have, heretofore, not assumed a significant place in the study of his career. Yet, this area of interest can best provide us a basis for estimating his intellectual relationship to his contemporaries and the extent to which he took part in the philosophical and theological movements of his day. This volume: is therefore to explore the primary aspects of his critical theological views, and, on the basis of this study, to estimate the extent to which Parker embraced New England transcendentalism. Among our central questions are these: What were his characteristic methods and interests? What actually was the intellectual relationship between Parker and Emerson? Which of the tenets of New England transcendentalism did Parker accept, and which of them did he seek to transform? Was he the preacher of a transcendentalist "gospel," or did he at the same time try to keep the more rationalistic, faith of the Enlightenment.?

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1
See Bibliography, pp. 161-164.

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The Critical Theology of Theodore Parker
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 - Biblical Criticism and Criticaltheology 33
  • Chapter 3 - The Religious Element in Human Nature 66
  • Chapter 4 - The Theology of Absolute Religion 111
  • Chapter 5 - Conclusion 130
  • Appendix 137
  • Bibliography 161
  • Index 165
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