Jonathan Edwards, the New Divinity, and Cosmopolitan Calvinism

Mark Valeri

in After Jonathan Edwards

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199756292
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950379 | DOI:
Jonathan Edwards, the New Divinity, and Cosmopolitan Calvinism

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This chapter describes the relationship between Jonathan Edwards and his earliest followers, New Divinity men such as Joseph Bellamy and Samuel Hopkins. Surveying recent studies of Edwards, it contends that he forged what can be called the evangelical Calvinist tradition by shaping Calvinist doctrine to Enlightenment moral discourses fixed on reason, right sentiment, and the social conventions of politeness. New Divinity preachers developed Edwards’s thought in a contest with rational critics of Calvinism on one hand and radical evangelical groups on the other. The result was a distinction between a type of evangelicalism that maintained cosmopolitan standards of social propriety and moral benevolence over and against a separatist and enthusiastic strain in the evangelical movement. The New Divinity accordingly allied itself with established religious conventions, albeit with an evangelical agenda, while other evangelicals developed a theological mind-set that challenged widespread notions of reason, responsibility, and politeness.

Keywords: New Divinity, Joseph Bellamy, Samuel Hopkins, evangelicalism, cosmopolitanism

Chapter.  5834 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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