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Early Eighteenth-Century Trinitarian Debates and Anglo-American Discourse on Authority, c. 1702-1758

Pike, Jonathan D.

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This dissertation contributes to the existing scholarship a further and detailed understanding of the early eighteenth-century Trinitarian debates and their relation to the Anglo-American discourse on authority. The study thereby provides greater nuance in the mapping of Trinitarianism and a better understanding of the foundations for the separation of Church and State and the parallel growth of State protections for individual Conscience. This dissertation argues that the Trinitarian debates of the early-eighteenth century, while not the ideological substance that the heresy-radicalism thesis claims, were in fact a significant medium for activating the discourse on authority between the institutions of Church and State in relation to individual Conscience. The study focuses on the salience of Lockean categories for societal and individual rights to the discourse on authority, especially for voluntary societies. The dissertation also demonstrates that the Trinitarian debates provided a substantial amount of material for the discourse on the authority of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, providing insight into how Scripture and Reason became the prime arbiters in the American scene.

The Trinitarianism of Thomas Emlyn, William Whiston, Samuel Clarke, and Benjamin Hoadly are each assessed. The trials and controversies involving these figures, as well as Henry Sacheverell and Anthony Collins, are placed within a continuum of concern over Church-State prosecutions in the first decades of the eighteenth-century. The English debates are placed parallel to the ecumenical and pietistic concerns of New England's Cotton Mather. The precedents of Exeter and Salter’s Hall for English Dissent are echoed in America not only in the Presbyterians’ Hemphill Affair, but in the Congregationalists’ ordination controversies relating to Robert Breck and Jonathan Mayhew, events that have not previously been connected at length. Benjamin Franklin’s written contributions to the Hemphill Affair are briefly assessed with new insights on his religious thought. Against the latest scholarship, Mayhew’s theological position is demonstrated to accord with Emlyn rather than Clarke. Aaron Burr, Sr.’s response to Mayhew is assessed to its greatest extent yet in secondary scholarship. Samuel Johnson, Anglican clergyman in Connecticut and president of King’s College, is found to convey in his published curriculums the vicissitudes of Anglican Trinitarianism during the period. Through all, the Trinitarian debates are seen to consistently activate the discourse on institutional and individual authority and to provide further material and direction for the discourse on the authority of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

Document type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Stievermann, Prof. Dr. Jan
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date of thesis defense: 18 July 2022
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2022 08:43
Date: 2022
Faculties / Institutes: Neuphilologische Fakultät > Dekanat Neuphilologische Fakultät
DDC-classification: 200 Religion
220 Bible
230 Christian theology
300 Social sciences
320 Political science
970 General history of North America
Controlled Keywords: Amerikanistik, Theologie, Trinität, Religionswissenschaft, Doktrin, Politisches Denken, Ideengeschichte, Locke, John, The @eighteenth century, Autorität, Trinitätslehre, Reformation, Religion, America
Uncontrolled Keywords: American Studies, Theology, Trinity, Religious Studies, Doctrine, Political Thought, History of Ideas, John Locke, Eighteenth Century, Authority, Doctrine of the Trinity, Church-State, Conscience, Scripture, Tradition, Reason, Reformation, Post-Reformation, Religion, Transatlantic, Thomas Emlyn, William Whiston, Anthony Collins, Samuel Clarke, Benjamin Hoadly, Cotton Mather, Salters Hall, Hemphill Affair, Benjamin Franklin, Breck Affair, Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Mayhew, Aaron Burr Sr., Samuel Johnson
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