The Last Puritans: Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past

The Last Puritans Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past Congregationalists the oldest group of American Protestants are the heirs of New England s first founders While they were key characters in the story of early American history from Plymouth Rock an

  • Title: The Last Puritans: Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past
  • Author: Margaret Bendroth
  • ISBN: 9781469624006
  • Page: 273
  • Format: Paperback
  • Congregationalists, the oldest group of American Protestants, are the heirs of New England s first founders While they were key characters in the story of early American history, from Plymouth Rock and the founding of Harvard and Yale to the Revolutionary War, their luster and numbers have faded But Margaret Bendroth s critical history of Congregationalism over the pastCongregationalists, the oldest group of American Protestants, are the heirs of New England s first founders While they were key characters in the story of early American history, from Plymouth Rock and the founding of Harvard and Yale to the Revolutionary War, their luster and numbers have faded But Margaret Bendroth s critical history of Congregationalism over the past two centuries reveals how the denomination is essential for understanding mainline Protestantism in the making Bendroth chronicles how the New England Puritans, known for their moral and doctrinal rigor, came to be the antecedents of the United Church of Christ, one of the most liberal of all Protestant denominations today The demands of competition in the American religious marketplace spurred Congregationalists, Bendroth argues, to face their distinctive history By engaging deeply with their denomination s storied past, they recast their modern identity The soul searching took diverse forms from letter writing and eloquent sermonizing to Pilgrim celebrating Thanksgiving pageants as Congregationalists renegotiated old obligations to their seventeenth century spiritual ancestors The result was a modern piety that stood a respectful but ironic distance from the past and made a crucial contribution to the American ethos of religious tolerance.

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    One Reply to “The Last Puritans: Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past”

    1. Dr. Margaret Bendroth, executive director of the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston, is a respected historian who has spent years up to her elbows in the historical details of America’s founding religious tradition. In this book she examines the ways Congregationalists, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries, have understood the significance of their antecedents, including New England’s Pilgrims and Puritans; the use they have made of that history; the ways they have celebrated [...]

    2. Not a history of Congregationalism but a history of how the Congregationalists have used their history, particularly the Pilgrim story. She focuses on grassroots history, more likely to quote anniversary sermons and the letters of lay people than denominational reports. Plus she has a wonderful dry wit. I would recommend this both to people who enjoy church history and to the general reader of history for an appreciation of how history has been used in American life.

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