Power, Authority, and the Origins of American Denominational Order: The English Churches in the Delaware Valley

Overview

This new edition and update of the seminal study, Power, Authority, and the Origins of American Denominational Order, questions the assumption that colonial American churches were seedbeds of democratic sentiment merely awaiting the American Revolution to cast off the shackles of both political and religious domination. Jon Butler points out that pre-Revolutionary Americans spoke of themselves as British and replicated familiar British forms in their North American settlements. In this work, he shows that ...

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Overview

This new edition and update of the seminal study, Power, Authority, and the Origins of American Denominational Order, questions the assumption that colonial American churches were seedbeds of democratic sentiment merely awaiting the American Revolution to cast off the shackles of both political and religious domination. Jon Butler points out that pre-Revolutionary Americans spoke of themselves as British and replicated familiar British forms in their North American settlements. In this work, he shows that colonial American religious organization reflected a clear and conscious commitment to British patterns of life and faith.
 
Examining late-17th-century and early-18th-century North American Quaker, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Anglican groups and religious structures, Butler finds that ministers wielded considerable power over their congregations, and the minutes of their meetings reveal that these ministers were hardly “proto-democrats” or individualists impatient with religious discipline. On the contrary, they themselves seem to have enthusiastically followed established norms of faith and order, and their congregations seemed quite satisfied with such proceedings.
 
In a nation still grappling with issues about religion in the public sphere and the ways religious bodies assert their own authority, this history of four English Protestant groups in America's earliest plural colonies speaks with a remarkably prescient voice.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817355258
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2009
  • Series: Religion & American Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Butler is Dean of the Graduate School and Howard R. Lamar Professor of American Studies, History, and Religious Studies at Yale University.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations

Introduction The Delaware Valley and American Denominational Order 1

1 Ministry, Authority and Denominational Order: The Evolution of English Models in Reform and Church Government, 1580-1720 8

2 Broadening the Quaker Hierarchy: The Friends in the Delaware Valley 43

3 In the Twilight of an Egalitarian Ministry: Baptists in the Delaware Valley 75

4 Toward Tension and Disorder: The Ambivalent Making of Presbyterian Denominational Order 94

5 Reform without Church: The Shape of Anglican Failure 120

Conclusion: The Origins and Character of Early American Denominational Order 141

A Note on Sources 183

Index 191

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