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By Jonathan D. Sassi

This publication examines the talk over the relationship among faith and public lifestyles in society in the course of the fifty years following the yankee Revolution. Sassi demanding situations the traditional knowledge, discovering an important continuity to the period's public Christianity, while such a lot earlier stories have visible this era as one within which the nation's cultural paradigm shifted from republicanism to liberal individualism. concentrating on the Congregational clergy of recent England, he demonstrates that all through this era there have been americans thinking about their company future, conserving a dedication to developing a righteous neighborhood and assessing the cosmic that means of the yank test.

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19 However, in the eighteenth century, these theological disputes did not reach the point of schism for the standing order, as they would later on. The political crises of the 1760s through the 1790s tended to foster an artificial unanimity among New England Congregationalists, regardless of their intramural squabbling. They generally stood together in their public pronouncements, although theological segmentation did contribute to a breakdown in consensus regarding the national covenant. ”20 It bears repeating that the theological balkanization of New England had profound ramifications for the debate over public Christianity in the nineteenth century.

These divisions, which would split the denomination and sap its strength in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, were now mostly latent, but festering. Since the 1730s at least, due to the influence of the Enlightenment, Arminianism had been seeping into New England thought and undermining its historical, Calvinist foundations. The contest between grace and works in New England theology exploded in the Great Awakening of the 1740s and pitted the Congregational clergy against one another in Old Light and New Light factions.

Historians have used remarks like his to depict the Congregational clergy as in a steep decline in the post-Revolutionary years. Confronted with a surge in religious dissenters, we are told, the old standing order appeared ossified and irrelevant. Moreover, one could extrapolate from Thacher’s pamphlet a general inference that by 1783 the established clergy’s mood was downcast and its fund of social pronouncements depleted. This chapter instead seeks to rectify these two misperceptions. Without denying the validity of Thacher’s complaints, it first contends for the ongoing strength of Congregationalism in southern New England relative to other denominations during the 1780s and 1790s.

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