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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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Darwin as Ally, the Social Gospel as Foe

Darwin as Ally, the Social Gospel as Foe

(p.129) 6 Darwin as Ally, the Social Gospel as Foe
Republican Theology

Benjamin T. Lynerd

Oxford University Press

In the late nineteenth century, American religion faced two kinds of challenges—the kind Darwinism posed to the idea of a morally coherent universe, and the kind that the industrial revolution posed to the idea that the free market is inherently just. In the face of these challenges, evangelicals proved to be nimble defenders of their civil religion, offering up ready answers. These answers, however, bifurcated into two distinct schools of thought—two opposing civil religions. Social class formed the line of division: While the working class rallied around a communitarian ideal known as the Social Gospel, articulated most famously by Walter Rauschenbusch, bourgeois Protestants like Henry Ward Beecher and Newman Smyth adopted a free market theology, drawing favorably upon evolutionary biology to present the market as the quintessence of freedom and as a divine engine of moral progress

Keywords:   Darwinism, Industrial Revolution, free market theology, Social Gospel, Henry Ward Beecher, Newman Smyth, Walter Rauschenbusch

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