The Decline and Fall of the Edwardsian Culture

Douglas A. Sweeney

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

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154283
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834709 | DOI:
 The Decline and Fall of the Edwardsian Culture

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Threatened by Unitarianism and Finneyite progressives, the Edwardsians of the 1820s banded together to fight off the encroachment of theological liberalism and “new measures” revivalism. By 1828, with the publication of Taylor's Concio ad Clerum, the fissures in the Calvinist front that remained hidden during the first part of the decade became more noticeable. Fears spread that Taylor had fallen into Arminianism and abandoned Edwardsian Calvinism. As Lyman Beecher moved to Cincinnati to take the presidency of Lane Seminary, Bennet Tyler continued to warn of the dangers of Nathaniel William Taylor's teaching. By 1850, when the sabers ceased rattling between Taylor and Tyler, Catharine Beecher publicly began teaching a form of Arminianism, which she claimed she learned from Taylor. In his seventies, Taylor was unable to fight the errant claims. Sweeney argues that the battle between Taylor and Tyler was symptomatic of the decline of Edwardsian Calvinism in New England. The true decline of New England Calvinism began when the leaders of New England Theology became so self‐absorbed in their minor theological battles that they lost their voice in the culture wars of the mid‐nineteenth century.

Keywords: Arminianism; Catharine Beecher; Lyman Beecher; Charles Finney; Edwardsian Calvinism; Lane Seminary; New England Theology; Bennet Tyler; Unitarianism

Chapter.  9062 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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