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Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards$
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Douglas A. Sweeney

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195154283

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195154282.001.0001

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“He Can if He Won't”

“He Can if He Won't”

The New Haven Doctrine of Original Sin

(p.69) 4 “He Can if He Won't”
Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards

Douglas A. Sweeney (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The chief theological concern in Taylor's doctrine of original sin lay in avoiding the notion that sin resided as a property or component of humanity's natural constitution. While many Old Calvinists held to the belief that depravity passed to humans through natural procreation, Taylor argued that this made God the author of sin, an unacceptable conclusion. In opposition to the Exercisers, Tasters, and Tylerites, who put the majority of their emphasis on human inability, the Taylorites worked hard to maintain what they believed to be continuity with the Edwardsian tradition as it related to the doctrine of original sin. Taylor recognized that there was a delicate balance between the doctrines of natural ability and divine dependence that required constant redress. In the end, the difference between Taylor's emphasis on the human ability to obey God in spite of the fact that sin was certain to prevail prior to regeneration proved largely semantic; but even this semantic difference was significant for his relationships with fellow Edwardsians and his identity as a theologian.

Keywords:   Calvinists, creationism, depravity, Exercisers, natural ability, original sin, Tasters, Bennet Tyler, Tylerites

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