The Universalist Movement in America, 1770-1880
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The Universalist Movement in America, 1770-1880

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This book offers the first cultural history of Universalism and the Universalist idea - the idea that an all-good and all-powerful God saves all souls. Ann Bressler argues that Universalism begins as a radical, eschatological, and communally-oriented faith and only later became a 'comfortably established' progressive and individualistic one. Although Universalists are usually classed with Unitarians as pioneering Protestant liberals, says Bressler, they were in fact quite different from both contemporary and later liberalism in their ideas and goals. Unitarians began by rejecting the Calvinist idea of sin as corporate, universal, and absolute, replacing it with their moral self-cultivation. Universalists, on the other hand, accepted the Calvinist view of absolute corporeal sinfulness but insisted on absolute corporeal salvation. Bressler's surprising claim is that Universalists, in their defiance of individualistic moralism, were for much of the 19th century the only consistent Calvinists in America. Bressler traces the emergence of the Universalists' 'improved' Calvinism and its gradual erosion over the course of the 19th century.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 214 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 362.87g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195129865
  • 9780195129861

About Ann Lee Bressler

Ann Lee Bressler received her doctorate in American history from the University of Virginia. She has previously held adjunct appointments to the faculty of Davidson College and is now an independent scholar.show more

Review quote

An erudite and coherent analysis of Universalism as a powerful religious idea in the wider culture of American Protestantism. * David Hempton, Times Literary Supplement * Competently written and clearly argued ... meticulously researched ... the only recent history of the Universalist denomination from its origins until its period of retrenchment in the late nineteenth century. * The Journal of American History * This revisionist account of Universalism's first century in the United States profits from its close attention to theological issues and to the ironies of historical development. * Journal of Ecclesiastical History *show more

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6 ratings
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