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A Paradise of ReasonWilliam Bentley and Enlightenment Christianity in the Early Republic$
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J. Rixey Ruffin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195326512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326512.001.0001

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 Spiritual Libertarianism

 Spiritual Libertarianism

Chapter:
(p.79) 4 Spiritual Libertarianism
Source:
A Paradise of Reason
Author(s):

J. Rixey Ruffin (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326512.003.0006

If Arminianism shaped his social ideology, Christian naturalism shaped his spiritual one. The removal of God from interfering in the natural realm allowed Bentley a new type and degree of religious toleration. He supported the freedom of religion both within and without Congregationalism, in fact dissolving the legal obligations of his own parish (the first Congregationalist to do so) and then publicly defending the rights of such dissenting views as the Gloucester Universalism. And he would open up the sacraments—Communion and, more importantly, baptism—beyond the range even of the most liberal of his peers. In short, he developed a unique theological libertarianism, sharing parts of the liberal, evangelical, and deist traditions but belonging to none of them.

Keywords:   Congregationalism, libertarianism, establishment, freedom of religion, sacraments, communion, baptism, Universalism

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