Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 37:1 (Fall 1974)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

James W. Jones: The Shattered Synthesis: New England Puritanism before the Great Awakening. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1973. xi, 207. $8.75.

The outpouring of books on New England Puritanism continues at a rapid pace in this country and there is a similar phenomenon in Britain concerning the Puritan movement there. It is, among other things, a tribute to the importance of the issues the Puritans faced and to the skill with which they dealt with them. The volume before us, by an assistant professor at Rutgers, is one of the better products of the day. It is lively and it is concise. The issues are made plain, perhaps a little plainer at times than the participants intended them to be. But we need this emphasis as over against the tedious volume of some earlier students.

Jones takes the view that “American religious history has been, among other things, a warfare between those who proclaim the presence of God and those who insist on the morality of man as the essence of what it means to be religious” (p. x). The warfare has not been as sharply delineated as this implies. Fundamentalists have been famous for combining a claim to the presence of God with a set of iron-bound rules for external conduct. But this does not invalidate the general force of the statement. It makes a valid point after all.

The discussion of “preparation” for salvation in connection with the views of John Norton is most stimulating (pp. 24-26). It should help the broader treatment of the matter to make progress. The visible problem was the existence of large numbers of people who came under the provisions of the Half-Way Covenant. They were baptized. They were having their children baptized. But there was no evidence, according to standard procedure, of their salvation. Does this ultimately demand for that goal the procedures of the Great Awakening, or not? Jones holds that without the Great Awakening or a similar form of revivalism men were on paths that were going to wind up in humanism. The crowning exponent of it in the days of the Awakening and immediately there-

after was Charles Chauncy, minister in the First Church of Boston as junior or senior pastor from 1727 to 1787. Chauncy opposed the Awakening and, in fact, in his later years defended universal salvation. Jones affirms that his theology “was not unlike that of the so-called Princeton theology of Alexander, Hodge, and Warfield in the next century” (p. 185). The point is not ill-taken because of the emphasis on reason, yet there was in fact a complete gulf between the two theologies. Cannibals and cultured men may both relish a meat diet. But there is a difference between them. It involves both the att...

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