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A Paradise of ReasonWilliam Bentley and Enlightenment Christianity in the Early Republic$
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J. Rixey Ruffin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195326512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326512.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 October 2021

 William Bentley and the Limits of Revolutionary Ideology

 William Bentley and the Limits of Revolutionary Ideology

(p.161) 10 William Bentley and the Limits of Revolutionary Ideology
A Paradise of Reason

J. Rixey Ruffin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Ultimately, in politics as well as in religion, Bentley's projects came to little. For while he had led the Republicans to success, that very success then led them to abandon him. The party would grow ever larger and more influential, but the tenor of the party changed too, away from the rationalist, libertarian egalitarianism that Bentley wanted it to have. Meanwhile, his efforts to convert Americans to Unitarian Christian naturalism came to even less. His church actually shrank and was the only congregation in Salem to do so, for it was the age of the Second Great Awakening, and Bentley could only stand by and watch as many more Americans moved toward an evangelical, experientialist version of Christianity rather toward his side. This chapter offers some explanations for these failures, in the limited appeal of his desires for a free America, compared to those of most Americans, and the failure of his Christian naturalism to meet the spiritual, communal, and emotional needs of those who looked to their Christianity to provide more than just a rationally consistent explanation of the world.

Keywords:   ideology, classical liberalism, Christian naturalism, Christianity, Unitarian, Second Great Awakening, evangelical

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