By J. Rixey Ruffin
William Bentley, pastor in Salem, Massachusetts from 1783 to his dying in 1819, used to be not like someone else in America's founding iteration, for he had come to specified conclusions approximately how top to take care of a standard figuring out of Christianity in a global 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 dwelling, 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 strains the evolution of Bentley's theology. Neither liberal nor deist, Bentley used to be as a substitute 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 intrude in nature after the Resurrection. In adopting this type of place, Bentley had driven his religion so far as he may well towards rationalism whereas nonetheless, he concept, calling it Christianity. yet this e-book is as a lot a social and political heritage of Salem within the early republic because it is an highbrow biography; it not just delineates Bentley's principles, yet might be extra very important, it unravels their social and political outcomes. utilizing Bentley's striking diary and an enormous archive of newspaper bills, tax documents, and electoral returns, Ruffin brings to lifestyles the sailors, widows, captains and retailers who lived with Bentley within the japanese 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 additionally of ideology: of the social politics of race and sophistication and gender, the ecclesiastical politics of firm and dissent, the ideological politics of republicanism and classical liberalism, and the get together politics of Federalism and Democratic-Republicanism. In bringing to gentle the interesting lifestyles and regarded certainly one of early New England's best historic figures, Ruffin deals a clean viewpoint at the formative negotiations among Christianity and the Enlightenment within the years of America's founding.
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Extra info for A Paradise of Reason: William Bentley and Enlightenment Christianity in the Early Republic
William Paine, Bentley’s maternal grandfather, lived just several blocks away from his daughter and son-in-law. Paine was a miller, ostensibly another artisan, but his life was altogether different from Joshua Bentley’s. The bubble of the North End bulged out on its west side, curving back in to form a cove between the North End and the rest of Boston. The water side of the cove had a gated dam that trapped the high tides for powering rudimentary grist mills, which in the 1760s were owned by William Paine.
The water side of the cove had a gated dam that trapped the high tides for powering rudimentary grist mills, which in the 1760s were owned by William Paine. 8 In fact, he did well for himself. Indeed, when William Bentley was still a boy living in his grandfather’s large home facing the mill pond, Paine’s real estate holdings were the most valuable in the North End. In 1771, for example, there were eight warehouses owned by North Enders; Paine owned three of them, while no one else owned more than one.
With that power they allied with the new minister to drive out the old one. It was not his opening of Communion that was so appealing, to judge by the later lack of participation even under his new rules. It was, however, very much his opening of baptism or, more precisely, his making baptism available even without a profession of faith. To get a child baptized without having to make a profession of faith: this is what these men wanted. The full phrasing of the baptism resolution in May of 1785 makes this clear.
A Paradise of Reason: William Bentley and Enlightenment Christianity in the Early Republic by J. Rixey Ruffin