To be read after reading Conflict Of Ages–The Great Debate of the Moral Relations of God and Man, Edward Beecher.
Beecher’s perspective and style very much reflect the best aspects of Nineteenth Century America prior to the Civil War. This does not mean that it comes from a time of great peace and tranquility, but rather that it is fraught with the angst that eventually resulted in the Civil War. The fact that this book is thoroughly modern, but not postmodern makes it a very interesting for anyone who truly wants to understand the world we actually live in today.
Beecher was not a backwater hick or a Southern sympathizer, but represents the best of American theology and literature of his day. His sister was the famous Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Edward was widely recognized as the best scholar among the Beechers, and the Beecher family produced an amazing array of scholars. Interestingly, his scholarship landed him in conflict with the religious pundits of every stripe in his day. The two conflicting trends in Nineteenth Century America involved the consolidation of Reformation churches, which had become the American Establishment, and the rejection of religious establishment mentality that has been described by many as a continuation of the principle of the Reformation.
Nineteenth Century America produced a prodigious raft of new philosophies, denominations and religious movements, including German idealism, Utilitarianism, Marxism, Existentialism, Positivism, Pragmatism, British idealism, Transcendentalism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Cooneyites, and many more. Obviously, all of these are not the product of the principle of the Christian Reformation. It was a time of great dissociation from the Christian roots of Western Civilization and from the Protestant roots of the original American society. It was the season of the flowering of the Great Awakenings in the sense that the Great Awakenings produced a kind of cross pollenization of the Reformation and the Enlightenment.
The careful reading of these pages will reveal a man who has a profound love of God, who honors true biblical orthodoxy and is not afraid to confront and expose those doctrines that stand on tradition rather than Scripture. Beecher knows what it means to have been born again by the grace of God and magnifies and advances the importance of regeneration for every aspect of theology and Christian life. His reading of Scripture is surprisingly plain and unvarnished in that he understands it at what we call face value. His treatment of the book of Revelation is particularly illustrative in this regard.