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History 578 Lecture # 3

History 578 Lecture # 3 - History 578 Lecture 3 I Beecher A...

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History 578 Lecture # 3 I. Beecher A. Three forces radically changed the intellectual and religious landscape of America after the Civil War. 1. Liberal Theology 2. Science 3. Industrialization B. Henry Ward Beecher, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn from 1847 – 1887, delivered a lecture at Yale Divinity in 1872, in which he challenged his students not to be left behind by the “intelligent part of society.” C. He said that, “There is being now applied among scientists a greater amount of real, searching discriminating thought than ever has been expended in the whole history of the world put together.” D. “If ministers do not make their theological systems conform to the facts as they are; if they do not recognize what men are studying, the time will not be far distant when the pulpit will be like the voice crying in the wilderness. And it will not be ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,” either. The providence of God is rolling forward in a spirit of investigation that Christian ministers must meet and join.” E. The combination of science, reason, and faith, in which a scientific and reasonable understanding of the world should be used to dictate faith, to form faith, progressed to full throttle after the Civil War. II. Origins of Liberalism A. Ministers who began to question their faith in terms of reason and the natural world, emerged in the latter part of the 18 th century. B. Most of these ministers remained tied to their original denominations, but were characterized by a faith that did not rest on scripture alone. There theology tended to be more liberal – it moved away from traditional orthodoxy. Hence, they were called liberals. C. Liberals rejected the notion that people were depraved because of Adam’s sin, yet still held responsible for their actions. D. A good God, liberals argued, would not hold subsequent generations accountable for Adam’s sin. If individual’s were accountable, it seemed only right that they had the ability to do differently than simply follow a sinful nature.
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