The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900

By Shattuck, Gardiner H., Jr. | Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900


Shattuck, Gardiner H., Jr., Anglican Theological Review


The Making of American Liberal Theology. Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900. By Gary Dorrien. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. xxv + 494 pp. $39.95 (paper).

In this first volume of a projected three-volume history, Gary Dorrien, an Episcopal priest who teaches at Kalamazoo College, examines the rise and development of American (mainly Protestant) theological liberalism in the nineteenth century. Dorrien's well-written, deeply researched narrative begins with the rejection of Calvinist thought and the emergence of Unitarianism out of the Congregational churches of New England in the 1810s. It focuses next on the lives and ideas of such major figures as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Bushnell, Henry Ward Beecher, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and it concludes with the deaths of the leading liberal thinkers of the Victorian era (Washington Gladden, Newman Smyth, Charles A. Briggs, and Borden Parker Bowne) after 1900. Dorrien defines liberal theology as a "third way" mediating between "the authority-based orthodoxies of traditional Christianity and the spiritless materialism of modern atheism" (p. xiii). Thus, in the minds of many of the people whom he studies, Christianity was assumed to be "a life, not a doctrine" (p. 405)-a religious stance that distinguished these men and women both from the proto-fundamentalist conservatives of their day and from those who rejected Christian beliefs and institutions altogether.

As Dorrien indicates in his astute comments on the ministerial career of Horace Bushnell, the liberal theologians of the nineteenth century were not only "ecclesiastically brave" but also veiy "culturally attuned" (p. 136). Seeking to liberate Christianity from the dogmatism of a benighted past, they envisioned the intellectual suppositions of their time as virtually equal in authority to the Bible and to the traditions of the church. As a consequence, while challenging the doctrinal standards of Christian orthodoxy, they also affirmed some of the worst aspects of American secular culture. Unable, for example, to escape the prejudices they held as members of the WASP elite, these Victorian "progressives" tended to project the bigoted social views of their class-anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and racism-onto the Christian faith. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.