Selective Readings: Edwards and the New Divinity

Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott

in The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199791606
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932290 | DOI:
Selective Readings: Edwards and the New Divinity

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Although there are numerous difficulties in identifying Edwards's theological legacy, the first distinct group of followers to emerge was referred to as the New Divinity. From the outset, there was significant opposition to Edwardsean theology from Arminians and from liberalizing Congregationalists (or Old Lights). Appropriating and adapting Edwards's theology proved to be problematic not only because of the complexity of ideas, but also because of a lack of access to his materials. Ultimately the New Divinity authors moved beyond Edwards by heightening human responsibility, rejecting imputation, and removing the distinction between moral inability and natural ability. Despite these changes, these Edwardseans venerated Edwards and believed that his legacy should endure. Edwardsean teaching underlay much of nineteenth-century evangelical expansion in missions, antislavery (abolitionism), education, and social reform.

Keywords: New Divinity; Nathanial Taylor; Samuel Hopkins; Jonathan Edwards Jr; Joseph Bellamy; atonement; imputation; social reform; missions; antislavery; abolitionism

Chapter.  9962 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christian Theology

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