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The Last PuritansMainline Protestants and the Power of the Past$
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Margaret Bendroth

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469624006

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469624006.001.0001

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Sons of the Pilgrim Fathers

Sons of the Pilgrim Fathers

How Congregationalists Claimed Their History

(p.27) Chapter Two Sons of the Pilgrim Fathers
The Last Puritans

Margaret Bendroth

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter is an opening conversation within American society about the power of the past and the limits and extent of human freedom. In the early nineteenth century this issue unfolded theologically, in long and complex disputes about divine providence and human sin. In churches all across the region, as across American society more generally, Congregationalists were pondering the power of ancient and seemingly arbitrary decrees, whether the human race sat under the penalty of Adam's sin or there was room for self-improvement, if not transformation. The question of precedent also shaped the quiet but earnest discussions among Congregational churches about the binding importance of ancient documents. The past certainly “mattered” to the sons of the Pilgrim fathers, just as Adam's sin somehow mattered to humanity—but how and why were far more complicated questions, as this chapter shows.

Keywords:   early nineteenth century, American society, precedents, Adam's sin, Pilgrim fathers, ancient documents, Congregational history

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