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Republican TheologyThe Civil Religion of American Evangelicals$
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Benjamin T. Lynerd

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199363551

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199363551.001.0001

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Entrenchment in the Second Great Awakening

Entrenchment in the Second Great Awakening

(p.101) 5 Entrenchment in the Second Great Awakening
Republican Theology

Benjamin T. Lynerd

Oxford University Press

A religious revival in the early nineteenth century seared republican theology onto the American conscience. From the 1810s through the 1830s, as hundreds of preachers advanced their sundry visions for national renewal, civil and private religion operated as one, with preachers like Lyman Beecher, Charles Grandison Finney, and Asahel Nettleton commanding national fame as intellectual and social leaders. However, the tensions built into republican theology manifested in religious divisions—including denominational ruptures splitting north from south—that anticipated the Civil War itself. Evangelicals loyal to the ideals of the Second Great Awakening engaged each other in turf battles over competing moral reform agendas – abolitionists versus temperance advocates, for instance – as well as over two major articles of their faith—the sinful condition of the human soul and the moral authority of the Bible. Paradoxically, perhaps, the entrenchment of a political theology became the unraveling of American Christianity.

Keywords:   Second Great Awakening, abolitionists, temperance, Lyman Beecher, Charles Grandison Finney, Asahel Nettleton

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