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Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture
Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture
James H. Moorhead
Eerdmans, 2012
570 pp., 179.98

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P. C. Kemeny

The Princeton Tradition

Protestantism and higher education.

To historians of Christianity in America, Princeton is not just scenic; it is one of the most influential towns in the nation. A remarkable array of religious leaders, including Jonathan Edwards (albeit very briefly), John Witherspoon, James Madison, Charles Hodge, Francis Grimké, Robert E. Speer, Woodrow Wilson, J. Gresham Machen, Bruce Metzger, and Cornel West have called Princeton University or Princeton Theological Seminary home. Prominent preachers, activists, and theologians such as D. L. Moody, Abraham Kuyper, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Karl Barth have preached from one of the many pulpits in Princeton. Two recent books, James H. Moorhead's Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture and Frederick Houk Borsch's Keeping Faith at Princeton: A Brief History of Religious Pluralism at Princeton and Other Universities, explore the history of the seminary and the history of religion at the university. These two works serve as a window into not only the history of Protestant higher education but also the larger history of Protestantism in American culture.

At the 1812 inauguration of Archibald Alexander as Princeton Seminary's first professor, the Reverend Philip Milledoler insisted, "We want a learned ministry. Whatever mischief has been done to the world by philosophy so called, we are persuaded that true learning has never injured the church and never will …. It has been said that ignorance is the mother of devotion; that aphorism we utterly and indignantly reject." The founding of Princeton Seminary saw a confluence of commitments and assumptions: an emphasis upon religious experience, the importance of the mind and academic knowledge, a commitment to Scottish Common Sense Realism, and an optimism that these forces together were improving the human condition. In Princeton Seminary in American Religion and Culture, James H. Moorhead, a professor of American Church History at Princeton Seminary, explores how the institution's history is in part ...

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