Sunday, June 26, 2011

Insights from Donald Scott

I've been reading Donald Scott's book From Office to Profession: The New England Ministry, 1750-1850. I thought the following insight was particularly interesting, in light of what I said in my earlier post  "Religion of the People, by the People, For the People."

In the eighteenth century, the submission and obedience that characterized the relationship between God and man had provided not only the source but also the 'type,' the ultimate model, of all the basic social disciplines. Increasingly, however, churchmen used the term to refer almost exclusively to the individual's personal relationship to God rather than to one's position and obligations in society. The surrender of the will to God was the ground, not of disciplines which were themselves forms of subordination, but of the inner controls needed to restrain the new, more autonomous character of the New England people. In this sense, evangelicals had evolved a sense of social discipline centered far more upon self-repression than upon internalized habits of deference to authorities.
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