OUR EXAMINATION of the critical theology and philosophy of Theodore Parker leads to several conclusions regarding the extent to which he embraced New England transcendentalism. His investigations of the Old and New Testaments with the help of critical tools, his emphasis on the rational and historical basis for religion, and his enunciation of the theology of "the infinite perfection of God" and "the infinite perfectibility of man" illustrate most clearly his characteristic methods and interests. These are the areas which best reveal where Parker stood with respect to his contemporaries; his theological formulations epitomize his viewpoint. Emerson spoke of him as "our Savanarola," while William Gannett added that, on the basis of his "system," "Parker was the Paul of transcendentalism."1 We are not misled, therefore, when we look to his theology for an estimate of his "faith" in the transcendentalist "gospel."
From this viewpoint our basic conclusion is that Parker represents "a transitional figure." He attempted to "mediate" between, and thereby reconcile, opposing extremes. His extensive use of the works of German critical theologians for his study of Biblical writings and historical Christian doctrines supports this view. Parker relied on the____________________