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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 new release, for he had come to specified conclusions approximately how top to take care of a conventional figuring out of Christianity in a global 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 concerning the energy of God and the attributes of Jesus. Drawing on over 1000 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 intervene in nature after the Resurrection. In adopting this kind of place, Bentley had driven his religion so far as he may perhaps towards rationalism whereas nonetheless, he concept, calling it Christianity.

yet this ebook 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 rules, yet might be extra very important, it unravels their social and political effects. utilizing Bentley's impressive diary and an enormous archive of newspaper money owed, 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 Reason is a research 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 celebration politics of Federalism and Democratic-Republicanism. In bringing to gentle the attention-grabbing existence and considered certainly one of early New England's best historic figures, Ruffin deals 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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