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

By J. Rixey Ruffin

William Bentley, pastor in Salem, Massachusetts from 1783 to his loss of life in 1819, used to be not like somebody else in America's founding new release, for he had come to specific conclusions approximately how top to take care of a standard knowing of Christianity in an international ever altering by way 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 strains the evolution of Bentley's theology. Neither liberal nor deist, Bentley was once as an alternative 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 kind of place, Bentley had driven his religion so far as he may towards rationalism whereas nonetheless, he notion, calling it Christianity.

But 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 probably extra very important, it unravels their social and political results. utilizing Bentley's extraordinary diary and an unlimited archive of newspaper money owed, tax files, and electoral returns, Ruffin brings to existence the sailors, widows, captains and retailers who lived with Bentley within the japanese parish of Salem.

A Paradise of Reason is a examine 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 firm and dissent, the ideological politics of republicanism and classical liberalism, and the social gathering politics of Federalism and Democratic-Republicanism. In bringing to gentle the attention-grabbing existence and considered considered one of early New England's best old 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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