This chapter introduces Matthew Simpson and B.T. Roberts as representative figures of an initial theological fragmentation in American Methodist theology. Previous historiography of American Methodism as a theological tradition is summarized, noting the tendency to emphasize a big-tent vision for American Methodist theology. It is argued that the big-tent vision for American Methodist theology is the result of the shifts that happened in the 1850s and 1860s and represents one part of the fragmentation within American Methodism. It is argued that holiness and entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, were particular points of emphasis in American Methodist theology, even across its initial divisions. Simpson and Roberts represent a textured case study of a crucial moment of fragmentation in American Methodism.
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