New PDF release: By What Authority? The Rise of Personality Cults in American

By Richard Quebedeaux

ISBN-10: 0060667249

ISBN-13: 9780060667245

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Extra resources for By What Authority? The Rise of Personality Cults in American Christianity.

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They had to press for quicker conversions than their Eastern revivalist contemporaries who worked in more settled circum­ stances. Education meant little on the frontier, so the Western evange­ lists turned on all the heat they could and therefore appealed much more to the emotions than the intellect. The new revivalists created a specific method of fostering religious awakening on the frontier: the "camp meeting," a technique of reach­ ing the less-educated migrant "masses" in the burgeoning West that was developed by the Presbyterian minister, James McCready, in Ken­ tucky in 1 8oo.

Get remarried? Join a new church? And the religion of mass culture not only helps its practitioners make decisions, it also offers believers power to live by­ the method, as it were, for successful living. In popular religion, the ease of decision-making, the power to live successfully, and the feeling of self-worth are all ultimately derived from a certain understanding of the nature of God and of humanity. The belief in an inscrutable deity beyond human reach who is wholly other in character is seldom found, because emphasis on God's unk­ nowability, his mystery, does not square with the modern effort to bring God close to humanity.

In Mrs. Eddy's theology, the Eternal Mind is the source of all being, matter is nonexistent, and disease is caused entirely by errone­ ous thought. The power, then, to overcome all the illusions that have vexed humanity throughout its history was offered by her in the Church of Christ, Scientist, and in the Christian Science system, with its "practitioners"-a system that "furnishes the key to the harmony of man and reveals what destroys sickness, sin, and death. " But there were less radical and more widely popular heirs of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby who also formed their own religious association .

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By What Authority? The Rise of Personality Cults in American Christianity. by Richard Quebedeaux


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