Date of Award

Spring 5-26-2020

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Language

English

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Advisor

Liam Riordan

Second Committee Member

Richard Judd

Third Committee Member

Michael Lang

Additional Committee Members

James M. Renihan

Scott See

Abstract

The trans-national Regular Baptist tradition in the northeastern borderlands of Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick grew rapidly from 1780 to 1815. The spiritual imperatives of this Calvinistic group with its commitment to believer’s baptism of adults and closed communion churches made them distinctive, and a central argument here is that the worldly implications of “Two Kingdom” theology, founded on the strict separation of religious and civil realms, was central to Regular Baptists’ success in the region in this period. Three leading ministers whose actions as authors, itinerants, and as organizational leaders receive especially close attention: Maine-based ministers Daniel Merrill and Isaac Case (whose important manuscript diary is little known), and Edward Manning, a leading figure in the Maritimes, who cooperated closely with Merrill. Regular Baptists were dissenters to both the Standing Order and Anglican establishments in Maine and the Maritimes, which often sparked strong conflict with religious authorities. Moreover, the rigorous Calvinism of Regular Baptists that required adult baptism and only sanctioned closed-communion churches made high demands on members, making the tradition’s expansion in this period especially notable. While these high standards might seem to isolate Regular Baptists as an exclusive group, active itinerancy, mission work, congregational organization, and associational efforts were key to the tradition’s expansion in this time and place. Regular Baptists were distinct from free-will evangelical groups that have been closely studied as central to the Second Great Awakening in the United States and were also quite different from adherents to the New Light Stir led by Henry Alline in the Maritimes in the 1770s and 1780s. Struggles over the proper function of associationalism (how to balance congregational autonomy with broader denominational cooperation) and the rigor of the closed communion standard are especially important worldly implications of Two Kingdoms theology that need to be understood to achieve a full view of Regular Baptist success during their foundational period of growth in the northeastern borderlands.

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