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Jonathan M. Yeager

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199916955

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199916955.001.0001

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The Necessity of Evil

The Necessity of Evil

Chapter:
(p.365) 56 The Necessity of Evil
Source:
Early Evangelicalism
Author(s):

Samuel Hopkins

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199916955.003.0057

This chapter presents excerpts from Samuel Hopkins's The System of Doctrines, Contained in Divine Revelation, Explained and Defended (1793). Hopkins is arguably the most creative thinker among Jonathan Edwards's followers. His innovative modifications to Edwards's thought became known as “Hopkinsianism,” in which he posited true virtue in ethical terms as opposed to Edwards's definition of virtue aesthetically as benevolence to “Being in general.” Hopkins insists that true self-love meant being willing to sacrifice personal interests for the greater good of the whole. He promoted the notion of disinterested benevolence whereby a person completely and willingly submitted to the divine will no matter what the cost. His two-volume System of Doctrines produced a systematic theology of the New Divinity movement that identified God as a moral legislator who would not tolerate selfishness. While advocating the complete sovereignty of God, Hopkins tried to justify the existence of evil in the System of Doctrines.

Keywords:   divine revelation, Samuel Hopkins, Jonathan Edwards, Hopkinsianism, true virtue, benevolence, self-love, disinterested benevolence, systematic theology, New Divinity movement

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