The Last Puritans

The Last Puritans❮EPUB❯ ✺ The Last Puritans Author Margaret Bendroth – 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 t 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 past two The Last Kindle - 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 elouent 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. An oddly fascinating book about a determinedly staid organization “The Last Puritans” traces how the Congregationalist church managed the transition from being the orthodox state church of Massachusetts to one of the most liberal — critics would argue pallid and shapeless — denominations out there today The key pivot in the story according to Bendroth was the adoption of the PilgrimPuritan past with a good deal of handwaving the differences between the two awayAt the beginning of the nineteenth century the Congregationalists were profoundly unprepared for the competitive marketplace in Protestant denominations Two centuries as an officially state supported church will do that According to Bendroth most of the Congregationalist churches in New England didn’t even think of themselves in those terms they were just the church or the First Church everyone else had to give themselves a label This didn’t fly all that well out west where competition from Methodists Presbyterians and assorted evangelicals was fierce The Congregationalists came to identify themselves with the Puritans at around the same time the US along with Europe was discovering history as a field like we know it today as the nineteenth century started to wane This gave them a sense of shared identity that allowed them to have a kind of “brand identity” while also consolidating the denomination enough to allow for changes like becoming somewhat bureaucratic instead of each individual church running its own show This didn’t catapult the Congregationalist to dominance but did allow them a niche a thoughtful non sectarian middle class town based Protestantism There’s the past as in origins and history as in processes of change The Puritans provided both to the Congregationalists at different times They could stand as an ancestral claim to virtues back then believe it or not they tried to claim the Puritans as symbols of tolerance and a temporal priority But they also provided a sense of a project enfolding in time one that wouldn’t always stay the same Bendroth traces how the Congregationalists negotiated with the past to adapt such non Puritan beliefs as the perfectability of society and Protestant ecumenicalism on the idea that it was their task to carry on the example of being a beacon of ideal Protestant practice etc Alas the Puritans understood themselves to be standing at the end times not as an origin point to be worshipped filiopietistically or to be adapted and built past But they weren’t around to speak their piece any That’s what happens to anyone I suppose whose project outlived them Anyway a fair amount of this book is taken up with depictions of dry theological dispute but Bendroth does her best to keep it concise Without sugarcoating the inconsistencies involved she also stands up some for mainline Protestantism those once dominant but now increasingly sclerotic Protestant groupings that didn’t go evangelicalfundamentalist I remember as a Catholic boy in late twentieth century Massachusetts knowing about three kinds of Protestant the holy rollers the rich WASPs and whoever was going to those nice white steeple churches near every town green I never knew who they were supposed to be Bendroth argues that rather than a decline the Congregationalists’ story can be understood as a fulfillment not a complete or an easy one but as developments self consistent with four centuries of church history Along with being a story about a denomination and about the popular uses of history this is a reminder of the tectonic historical forces that shape even something as seemingly simple and benign as the nice UCC folks who show up at peace rallies ’ 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 it and sometimes failed to celebrate it; and the impact those historical perspectives have had on the dynamics of ongoing denominational activity Congregationalists formed a main component of the present day United Church of Christ—a denomination with a mixed record of struggle and success since its formation in 1957 One of Bendroth’s most welcome achievements in this book is her nuanced and balanced account of the “Great Merger Controversy” of the mid 20th century that gave birth to the UCC and two other fellowships the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference CCCC and the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches NACCC—a conflict that still echoes in the ongoing historical consciousness of the three groups The Last Puritans is an excellent informative and even entertaining read and should be high on the list of anyone interested in Congregationalism American Protestantism in general or simply the historical views of earnest American church people over the last two centuries Read for UCC Polity Fall 2018 at Yale Divinity School Excellent Summary of American Congregational HistoryBendroth's book provides a concise yet thorough overview of the history of the American Congregational churches It is loaded with interesting details about the lives of significant Congregational figures such as Henry Martyn Dexter and Douglas Horton I was surprised however that the author said virtually nothing about the Congregationalists' Kansas City Statement of Faith I think that statement is at least as significant as the later United Church of Christ Statement of Faith which Bendroth described in detail Still the book is an excellent resource for those wanting to get up to speed uickly on the history of America's Congregational churches 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 likely to uote 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

The Last Puritans Kindle × The Last  Kindle -
  • Paperback
  • 258 pages
  • The Last Puritans
  • Margaret Bendroth
  • 04 February 2014
  • 9781469624006