Download A Paradise of Reason: William Bentley and Enlightenment by J. Rixey Ruffin PDF

By J. Rixey Ruffin

William Bentley, pastor in Salem, Massachusetts from 1783 to his demise in 1819, was once in contrast to an individual else in America's founding iteration, for he had come to distinctive conclusions approximately how top to keep up a conventional knowing of Christianity in an international ever altering by means of the forces of the Enlightenment. Like a few of his contemporaries, Bentley preached a liberal Christianity, with its benevolent God and salvation via ethical residing, yet he-and in New England he alone-also preached a rational Christianity, one who provided new and radical claims in regards to the energy of God and the attributes of Jesus. Drawing on over one thousand of Bentley's sermons, J. Rixey Ruffin lines the evolution of Bentley's theology. Neither liberal nor deist, Bentley was once in its place what Ruffin calls a "Christian naturalist," a believer within the biblical God and within the crucial Christian narrative but additionally in God's unwillingness to intervene in nature after the Resurrection. In adopting any such place, Bentley had driven his religion so far as he may towards rationalism whereas nonetheless, he suggestion, calling it Christianity. yet this publication is as a lot a social and political historical past of Salem within the early republic because it is an highbrow biography; it not just delineates Bentley's rules, yet possibly extra very important, it unravels their social and political effects. utilizing Bentley's notable diary and an unlimited archive of newspaper bills, tax files, and electoral returns, Ruffin brings to lifestyles the sailors, widows, captains and retailers who lived with Bentley within the jap parish of Salem. A Paradise of cause is a learn of the highbrow and tangible results of rational faith in mercantile Salem, of theology and philosophy but in addition of ideology: of the social politics of race and sophistication and gender, the ecclesiastical politics of multinational and dissent, the ideological politics of republicanism and classical liberalism, and the occasion politics of Federalism and Democratic-Republicanism. In bringing to mild the attention-grabbing lifestyles and regarded one in all early New England's best historic figures, Ruffin bargains a clean point of view at the formative negotiations among Christianity and the Enlightenment within the years of America's founding.

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Extra resources for A Paradise of Reason: William Bentley and Enlightenment Christianity in the Early Republic

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It was a conflict as geographically broad as the Anglo-American world, but the church on the corner of Main and Hardy in Salem provides a glimpse of what one small part actually looked like from the perspective of the people who were living it.

The imputation of Original Sin has left everyone as much in need of redemption as were the first pair after their expulsion from Eden. Christ’s sacrificial death made that redemption possible, but only those individuals ever since who sufficiently recognize their need for it will receive it. Only those who repent, that is, will receive saving grace and reconcile themselves to God. ’’4 Though Diman eschewed the typical behaviors of those evangelicals who revivified the Calvinist narrative during and after the 1740s—at least, there is no evidence that he invited George Whitefield to preach at the East Church during any of Whitefield’s tours through Essex County or that he became part of the network of evangelical exchanges and courtesies that included Salem’s Nathaniel Whitaker and Ipswich’s John Cleaveland—he was clearly sympathetic to their ideas.

24 And Bentley, it seems, resented them in return. ‘‘Do not fancy therefore that the tutor’s life is pleasant and happy,’’ he copied from one of his readings. ’’25 The continued exposure to the spoiled sons of Boston’s wealth was reaffirming his sense of social inferiority. The Revolution had challenged the traditional hierarchical social structure along with the claims about nature and God that had propped them up and the social customs that had affirmed them, but change was slow, and Bentley had been born too early to forget, or be allowed to forget, his humble origins.

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