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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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‘The hateful mystery’

‘The hateful mystery’

The Eclipse of Eternal Punishment

(p.48) 7 ‘The hateful mystery’
The Dissenters Volume III

Michael R. Watts

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the rejection of the doctrine of eternal punishment in the mid-nineteenth century. While the fear of eternal punishment helped secure Evangelical conversions and filled up Nonconformist chapels, there were men and women within the Evangelical camp who had doubts about the morality of the concept of eternal punishment. But the rejection of eternal punishment did not necessarily involve rejection of Christianity. From the mid-seventeenth century onwards, Socinians, such as John Biddle, and Arians, like John Locke, Isaac Newton, and Samuel Clarke, had accompanied their rejection of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, with a denial of the eternity of hell's torments without repudiating the name of Christian.

Keywords:   religious dissent, eternal punishment, Christianity, Evangelicals, Nonconformists

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