When republican theology first came to dominate the American pulpit in the 1770s, it displaced covenant theology, the idea that societies form for the purpose of extending God’s redemptive kingdom on earth. The question of how to put the new covenant to work in the polis spawned the diverse experiments in Puritan governance to which the likes of Hobbes and Locke responded with their various social contracts. The eighteenth century witnessed theological clash and compromise between the imperatives of the Christian covenant and those of the social contract. Republican theology of the American founding represents a latter stage of this dialectic. At the midpoint stands the Scottish moral sense tradition, exemplified in this chapter by Francis Hutcheson, which infused Lockean politics with a robust Christian morality. Jonathan Edwards’ rebuttal of Scottish moral sense in the 1750s reveals an American evangelical tradition that, for a few more years at least, would retain the moral idealism of the new covenant.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.