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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Trying to account for the growth of Presbyterianism in North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is not simply a matter of demographics. Rather, Presbyterianism’s expansion was the result of a developing sense of identity, centering on robust theological debate as shaped by the process of Americanization. Starting in the eighteenth century, this New World faith drew from Old World precedents and personalities, but transformed them in the new North American context. Not every Presbyterian participated in this mainstream development; African Americans, Scots Covenanters, and Canadians all found themselves to be outsiders to this developing American faith. These outsiders actually highlight the larger trend: Presbyterians more than any other denominational tradition would become a “church with the soul of the nation.” This commitment, and perhaps captivity, to American culture accounts for Presbyterian success during this period, but it would also set the stage for the fierce battles over Presbyterian identity in the twentieth century and beyond.

Keywords: doctrine, Old Side Presbyterians, New Side Presbyterians, Old School Presbyterians, New School Presbyterians, subscription, polity, American, Americanization, division

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