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The Evangelical Conversion NarrativeSpiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England$
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D. Bruce Hindmarsh

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245758

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199245754.001.0001

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The Olney Autobiographers: Conversion Narrative The Olney Autobiographers: Conversion Narrative and Personality

The Olney Autobiographers: Conversion Narrative The Olney Autobiographers: Conversion Narrative and Personality

(p.261) 8 The Olney Autobiographers: Conversion Narrative and Personality
The Evangelical Conversion Narrative

D. Bruce Hindmarsh (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Picks up the story of conversion narrative among evangelical Anglicans through a close reading of three case studies. Associated with the town of Olney, John Newton, William Cowper, and Thomas Scott lived near one another in the north-eastern corner of Buckinghamshire, where Newton and Scott were clergymen in the Church of England, and Cowper was a local gentleman-poet living on patronage. Like most evangelical Anglicans, they were moderate Calvinists when they wrote their narratives in the 1760s and 1770s, and the Calvinistic order of salvation provided a model for their self-understanding. However, in their autobiographies we find a vivid display of personality that appears not despite the presence of a model, but because of it. Within a similar theological framework, Newton interpreted his life typologically, Scott intellectually, and Cowper psychologically—each offering a unique expression of personal adherence to a common gospel.

Keywords:   conversion, evangelical Anglican, John Newton, moderate Calvinist or Calvinism, Olney, personality, Thomas Scott, William Cowper

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