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About This Book
Baptists in the nineteenth century grew from a small, struggling denomination to the second-largest Protestant denomination in America. They constructed conventions, schools, churches, and benevolent works. American Baptists transformed from cultural outsiders to insiders. Despite this growth in size, organization, and influence, there is surprisingly few attempts to understand them historically. This is even more true for Northern Baptists as opposed to their Southern counterparts, despite the fact that Northern Baptists, in many respects, were the theological leaders of the denomination. This raises questions about what their theology was, what it was rooted in, and how well it could handle the surplus of challenges that nineteenth-century religion threw at it. Chief among these were the challenges toward biblical and theological authority. Perhaps the brightest star of the Northern Baptist constellation, and doubtless the most well-connected, was Alvah Hovey from Newton Theological Institute in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. This book, the first book-length treatment of this Baptist giant since Hovey's son published a biography in 1929, chronicles Hovey's life and career focusing on how he coped with the challenges of biblical criticism and a rapidly changing theological context. Hovey produced a theology he understood as thoughtful Christianity.