The Prism of Piety: Catholick Congregational Clergy at the Beginning of the Enlightenment (Religion in America)

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9780195067583: The Prism of Piety: Catholick Congregational Clergy at the Beginning of the Enlightenment (Religion in America)

The first study to focus on catholick congregationalism, this book illustrates the manner in which the Enlightenment first affected American religious thought and describes the crystallization of a set of terms that continued to guide American thought in the Age of Reason. This book attacks the widely accepted ideas, propounded by Perry Miller, that Enlightenment ideas hastened the demise of religion in eighteenth-century New England. Corrigan argues that Miller misread and misunderstood those New England theologians who were most influenced by the Enlightenment in the early eighteenth century. On Corrigan's reading of these same writers, Enlightenment ideas actually contributed toward the revitalization of congregationalism during this period. Corrigan analyzes the writing of a group of Boston ministers--Benjamin Colman, Nathaniel Appleton, Ebenezer Pemberton, Benjamin Wadsworth, Thomas Foxcroft, and Edward Holyoke--and finds that the catholicks welcomed Enlightenment thought as a needed counterbalance to prevailing views of the world and society as corrupt and dangerous and used them to promote a return to trust in religious community.

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About the Author:

John Corrigan, Associate Professor of Religion, Harvard University.

Review:

"Gracefully written, well-researched, and intelligently argued."--The Historian

"A great help to those wishing to understand how the century of faith turned into the century of reason."--Catholic Historical Review

"Insightful and creative....The importance of the study is that it not only helps us understand better the relation between religion and the Enlightenment in the 18th century, but it also casts light upon the 17th-century Puritanism that came before and the 19th-century evangelicalism that
followed."--Choice

"This is a fine study of an important group of colonial religionists."--Review and Expositor

"Fills an important niche in the historiography of American thought."--Journal of Church and State

"Recommended for all interested in early American religion and the Enlightenment."--Religious Studies Review

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