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Heaven in the American Imagination$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738953.001.0001

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Heaven in the Gilded Age

Heaven in the Gilded Age

Dwight L. Moody and the Princes of the Pulpit

(p.109) 6 Heaven in the Gilded Age
Heaven in the American Imagination

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

During the Gilded Age, a plethora of books and sermons provided portraits of heaven. Through their preaching and publications, urban revivalists, led by Dwight L. Moody, and prominent pastors, most notably Henry Ward Beecher, T. Dewitt Talmage, and Phillips Brooks, extolled the glories of the celestial realm and urged people to prepare properly for heaven. Theological liberalism, especially “Progressive Orthodoxy,” attracted many proponents who either repudiated or downplayed the conventional notion of hell and salvation. Religious leaders debated whether those who did not hear the gospel message on earth would have a chance to respond to it after death. Whether they were evangelicals or liberals, Gilded Age Christians emphasized the happiness, holiness, and love of heaven. They also accentuated, more than earlier generations, the concepts of vigorous and varied activities, progress, and personal growth, themes that became dominant in Progressive portraits of paradise.

Keywords:   heaven, Dwight L. Moody, Henry Ward Beecher, T. Dewitt Talmage, Phillips Brooks, theological liberalism, hell, salvation

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