New England Christianity in the nineteenth century produced an almost unending stream of new and old denominations that speckled the landscape. Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Universalists, Spiritualists, Unitarians, Restorationists, and Calvinists—to name a few—beckoned each individual to join their growing movements. Each professed its truths and some proclaimed theirs was the only path leading to salvation. Admist this Christian angst, Adin Ballou began his spiritual quest to obtain truth.
Through Ballou's lengthy spiritual quest, from 1820 to 1880, this book examines how denominational histories, however important, do not explain what a nineteenth-century New England Christian became. Ballou exemplifies this paradox. Always fixed, but never settled. Once a believer chose a path, new phenomena and teachings immediately appeared leaving one's truth claims transient. Through the Christian maze of nineteenth-century New England, Ballou's Christian faith was simply his own.
Bryce Hal Taylor teaches in the Department of History at Brigham Young University.
Chapter 1: Finding Purpose, Finding Authority
Chapter 2: Unstable Belief, the Consequences and Triumphs of Disestablishment, and the Free Press
Chapter 3: Personal and Societal Redemption
Chapter 4: Fleeing the Nation, Finding Utopia?
Chapter 5: The Non-Resistant