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Keepers of the Covenant Frontier Missions and the Decline of Congregationalism 1774-1818

by James R. Rohrer

  • ISBN: 9780195091663
  • ISBN10: 0195091663

Keepers of the Covenant Frontier Missions and the Decline of Congregationalism 1774-1818

by James R. Rohrer

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr on Demand
  • Publish date: 06/01/1995
  • ISBN: 9780195091663
  • ISBN10: 0195091663
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Description: In 1774 the Congregationalists were the largest religious group in America; by 1830 they ranked only fourth. Scholars have advanced various explanations for this decline. Most commonly, they have blamed an elite, reactionary clergy unable to adapt themselves to the democratizing culture of the western migration. This book challenges the reductiveness of that traditional interpretation. With hundreds of letters, diaries, field reports, and sermons at his disposal, James Rohrer examines the background and evangelistic style of the frontier missionaries to show that Congregational missionaries took the frontier seriously, adapting themselves to its requirements. They failed to flourish numerically, Rohrer argues, in part because they were too demanding in their ideal of the pure church. This finding flies in the face of the currently fashionable theory that strict, sectarian groups thrive precisely because they are stricter and more sectarian. As the first full-length treatment of the Congregationalist response to frontier democracy, Keepers of the Covenant will interest church historians and students of early republican America, as well as sociologists and anyone concerned with the decline of the Protestant mainline.
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