Bushnell, Horace


Bushnell, Horace

▪ American theologian
born April 14, 1802, Bantam, Conn., U.S.
died Feb. 17, 1876, Hartford, Conn.

      Congregational minister and controversial theologian, sometimes called “the father of American religious liberalism.” He grew up in the rural surroundings of New Preston, Conn., joined the Congregational Church in 1821, and in 1823 entered Yale with plans to become a minister. After his graduation in 1827, however, he taught school briefly, served as associate editor of the New York Journal of Commerce, and studied law at Yale. Not until 1831, after he had qualified for the bar, did his religious doubts diminish sufficiently for him to begin his theological education. He entered Yale Divinity School and in 1833 was ordained minister of the North Congregational Church in Hartford, where he served for more than 20 years until ill health forced his resignation.

      A major figure in U.S. intellectual history, Bushnell stood between the orthodox tradition of Puritan New England and the new romantic impulses represented by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and especially Friedrich Schleiermacher. His first significant publication, Christian Nurture (1847), was a thorough critique of the prevailing emphasis placed on the conversion experience by revivalists. In God in Christ (1849), published in the year of his mystical experience that illumined the gospel for him, Bushnell challenged the traditional, substitutionary view of the atonement (i.e., that the death of Christ was the substitute for man's punishment for sin) and considered problems of language, emphasizing the social, symbolic, and evocative nature of language as related to religious faith and the mysteries of God. Christ in Theology (1851) amplified and defended his attitude toward theological language, giving special attention to metaphoric language and to an instrumental view of the Trinity. In Nature and the Supernatural (1858) he viewed the twin elements of the title as constituting the one “system of God” and sought to defend from skeptical attack the Christian position on sin, miracles, incarnation, revelation, and Christ's divinity.

      Bushnell's views were bitterly attacked, and in 1852 North Church withdrew from the local “consociation” in order to preclude an ecclesiastical heresy trial. Despite such opposition, however, his ability to assemble and present coherent arguments guaranteed the impact and influence of his interpretation of Christianity. Among his numerous works are The Vicarious Sacrifice (1866), Forgiveness and Law (1874), and six volumes of essays and sermons. An essay on “Science and Religion” (1868) shows his resistance to Darwinian evolutionary theory. His moderate and cautious views on social issues are recorded in A Discourse on the Slavery Question (1839); The Census and Slavery (1860); and Women's Suffrage: The Reform Against Nature (1869).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Bushnell, Horace — (1802–76)    Theologian.    Bushnell was born in Connecticut and was educated at Yale University. He initially trained as a lawyer, but instead chose to be ordained into the Congregational ministry and for many years he served as pastor. He was… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • BUSHNELL, Horace — (1802 1876)    American CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER and theologian who argued in Christian Nature (1874), that CHRISTIAN CONVERSION is a result of education and not a sudden experience. He also declared in The Vicarious Sacrifice (1866), that the… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Horace Bushnell — (April 14, 1802 – February 17, 1876) was an American Congregational clergyman and theologian.LifeBushnell was a Yankee born in the village of Bantam, township of Litchfield, Connecticut. He attended Yale College where he roomed with future… …   Wikipedia

  • Bushnell Park — in Hartford, Connecticut is the oldest publicly funded park in the United States. It was conceived by the Reverence Horace Bushnell in the mid 1850s at a time when the need for open public spaces was just starting to be recognized. Reverend… …   Wikipedia

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  • Bushnell — (spr. Buschnell), Horace, geb. um 1804 in New Preston im Staate Connecticut, arbeitete Anfangs in einer Walkmühle, besuchte später das Yale College New Haven, übernahm dann die Redaction des New York Journal of commerce, gründete eine… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Horace Wells — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Wells. Horace Wells …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts — The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, was built in 1930 by Dotha Bushnell Hillyer as a living memorial to her father, the Reverend Dr. Horace Bushnell (1802 1876), a Hartford minister, theologian,… …   Wikipedia

  • David P. Bushnell — in late 1949 in Pasadena, soon after the beginning of Bushnell Optical. David Pearsall Bushnell (March 31, 1913 – March 24, 2005) was an American entrepreneur. Mr. Bushnell founded his company, Bushnell, in 1948. At that time, binoculars were… …   Wikipedia


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