Jonathan Dickinson and the Formative Years of American Presbyterianism
During the eighteenth century Presbyterians of the Middle Colonies were separated by divergent allegiances, mostly associated with groups migrating from New England with an English Puritan background and from northern Ireland with a Scotch-lrish tradition. Those differences led first to a fiery ordeal of ecclesiastical controversy and then to a spiritual awakening and a blending of diversity into a new order, American Presbyterianism. Several men stand out not only for having been tested by this ordeal but also for having made real contributions to the new order that arose from the controversy. The most important of these was Jonathan Dickinson.
Bryan Le Beau has written the first book on Dickinson, whom historians have called "the most powerful mind in his generation of American divines." One of the founders of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and its first president, Dickinson was a central figure during the First Great Awakening and one of the leading lights of colonial religious life.
Le Beau examines Dickinson's writings and actions, showing him to have been a driving force in forming the American Presbyterian Church, accommodating diverse traditions in the early church, and resolving the classic dilemma of American religious history -- the simultaneous longing for freedom of conscience and the need for order. This account of Dickinson's life and writings provides a rare window into a time of intense turmoil and creativity in American religious history.
Subjects: History, Religion
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