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The Dissenters Volume IIIThe Crisis and Conscience of Nonconformity$
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Michael R. Watts

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198229698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198229698.001.0001

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‘An easy good-natured God’

‘An easy good-natured God’

The Collapse of Calvinism

(p.42) 6 ‘An easy good-natured God’
The Dissenters Volume III

Michael R. Watts

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the growing rejection of Calvinism in nineteenth-century England. By the end of the eighteenth century, Calvinism was abandoned by Presbyterians who saw themselves as rational Dissenters, and was being undermined by Particular Baptists and by Congregationalists who struggled to reconcile the eternal decrees of Calvinism with the missionary impulse of the Evangelical revival. By the 1860s, the nonconformist revolt against the doctrine of eternal punishment was growing apace, stimulated by the concept of the ‘larger hope’ to which Tennyson gave expression in In Memoriam. In 1875, the doyen of liberal Congregationalists, Baldwin Brown, came out strongly against both eternal punishment and conditional immortality (conditional on faith in Christ), and was adamant that the preaching of eternal punishment was no longer acceptable in the late nineteenth century.

Keywords:   religious dissent, Presbyterians, Dissenters, Baptists, Calvinist system, Baldwin Brown, eternal punishment, immortality, Christianity

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