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Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

Douglas A. Sweeney

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154283
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834709 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195154282.001.0001
Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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Nathaniel William Taylor (1786–1858) was arguably the most influential American theologian of his generation. Despite his tremendous national influence, however, his views were chronically misunderstood. He and his associates always declared themselves to be Edwardsian Calvinists – working in the train of “America's Augustine,” Jonathan Edwards – but very few people, then or since, have believed them. In this revisionist study, Douglas A. Sweeney examines why Taylor and his associates counted themselves Edwardsians. He explores what it meant to be an Edwardsian minister and intellectual in the nineteenth century, how the Edwardsian tradition evolved after the death of Edwards himself, how Taylor promoted and eventually fragmented this tradition, and the significance of these developments for the future of evangelical America. Sweeney argues that Taylor's theology has been misconstrued by the vast majority of scholars, who have depicted him as a powerful symbol of the decline of Edwardsian Calvinism and the triumph of democratic liberalism in early national religion. Sweeney instead sees Taylor as a symbol of the vitality of Edwardsian Calvinism throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, a vitality that calls into question some widely held assumptions about this era. Charting Taylor's contribution to the modification, diversification, and ultimate dissolution of the Edwardsian tradition, Sweeney demonstrates his role in the translation of Edwardsian ideals to the ever‐expanding evangelical world that would succeed him. The Edwardsian tradition did not die out in the early nineteenth century, but rather grew rapidly until at least the 1840s. Nathaniel W. Taylor, more than anyone else, laid the theoretical groundwork for this growth – contributing, to be sure, to the demise of New England Theology, but at the same time making it accessible to an unprecedented number of people.

Keywords: America; Calvinism; Edwardsian; Jonathan Edwards; evangelical; New England; Nathaniel William Taylor; theology

Book.  267 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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Birth of a Theologian in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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Coming of Age Among the Edwardsians in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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Taylor at the Reins of the “One‐Hoss Shay” in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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“He Can if He Won't” in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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“The Comprehensive Theme of Revealed Theology” in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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“To Make Himself a Holy Heart” in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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The Decline and Fall of the Edwardsian Culture in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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Taylor's Edwardsian Legacy in Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

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