Good Rulers and Better Books

David F. Holland

in Sacred Borders

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753611
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895113 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

Good Rulers and Better Books

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This chapter begins with a discussion of Quakerism and its approach to canon. It then considers how the skeptical Enlightenment began to challenge the particularism of the Bible, meaning the idea that God spoke only to one group of people at one period of history. From there it moves to the deist critique of the Christian canon by people like Mathew Tindal, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Ethan Allen. It also examines the Christian response to that critique as offered by both evangelicals and liberals, including such figures as Samuel Clarke, Jonathan Edwards, Ebenezer Gay, Richard Watson, and Elias Boudinot. It considers how the aura of the Federal Constitution as sacred scripture related to the debate about canon. And it concludes by showing how the defense of revealed religion as tendered in the proliferating religious press of the early American republic left an ambiguous legacy for the preservation of the traditional biblical canon.

Keywords: canon; Quakers; Great Awakening; evangelicals; liberal christians; deists; Benjamin Franklin; Thomas Paine; constitution

Chapter.  18846 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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