“Shall the Hellish Doctrine Stand?”

Peter J. Thuesen

in Predestination

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780195174274
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199872138 | DOI:
“Shall the Hellish Doctrine Stand?”

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This chapter examines the emergence of Arminianism and other challenges to absolute predestination in 18th‐century America. Much of the early opposition to the old Puritan synthesis came from Anglican missionaries bent on bringing their wayward brethren back into England's established church. Colonial figures such as Samuel Johnson of Connecticut derided Calvinist predestination as antithetical to biblical truth. Many Anglicans were motivated by high‐church sacramentalism, and this outlook influenced the young John Wesley, the Methodist founder and the most famous Arminian in American history. Wesley came to blows with more Calvinistic revivalists such as George Whitefield over predestination, and the resulting rift persists in evangelicalism to this day. Because the 18th century was also the age of Enlightenment, it bequeathed to American culture an enduring strain of rationalism regarding predestination and the associated doctrines of hell and providence. The chapter shows how these emergent doubts altered popular thinking about divine sovereignty.

Keywords: Anglican; Johnson; sacramentalism; Wesley; Methodist; Whitefield; Enlightenment; hell; providence; sovereignty

Chapter.  10826 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christian Theology

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