Bushnell, Horace

Bushnell, Horace

(bo͝osh`nəl), 1802–76, American Congregational minister, b. Bantam, Conn. Bushnell became (1833) pastor of the North Church, Hartford, Conn. He wrote Christian Nurture (1847) and God in Christ (1849). Because of certain views of the Trinity allegedly expressed in the latter, unsuccessful attempts were made to bring him to trial for heresy. Bushnell's dignified reply was made in Christ in Theology (1851). His repudiation of the austerity of Calvinism and his stress on the presence of the divine in humanity and nature had profound influence in shaping liberal Protestant thought. Ill health obliged him to retire from the active ministry in 1859, but he continued to write. His works include The Vicarious Sacrifice (1866), in which he developed the well-known "moral influence theory" of the atonement; Sermons on Living Subjects (1872); and Forgiveness and Law (1874).

Bibliography

See the Life and Letters, ed. by his daughter, Mrs. M. B. Cheney (1880, 1903; repr. 1969); biographies by T. T. Munger (1899) and W. R. Adamson (1966); studies by A. J. W. Myers (1937), B. M. Cross (1938), and William A. Johnson (1963).

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Bushnell, Horace

(1802–76) Congregational minister, theologian; born in Bantam, Conn. After graduating from Yale (1827), he was teaching and reading for the bar when in 1831 he felt called to the ministry. He entered Yale's Divinity School; the rationalistic "new divinity" of Calvinism then in vogue offended his more intuitive spirit but he accepted ordination in 1833, and although not truly a popular preacher, gained a reputation for his fine sermons. Owing to poor health, he went off to Europe in 1845–46 and returned to publish one of his most influential works, Christian Nurture (1847). In 1849 he experienced a mystical vision of God and the Gospel; when he revealed this, he was attacked by the more traditional Congregationalists but he continued to preach and write. His weak lungs led him to move to California in 1856; he helped to establish the first University of California at Berkeley, but declining the presidency he returned to Connecticut in 1858. His poor health forced him to resign from a pastorate in 1861, but he continued to publish his sermons and religious speculations. By the time of his death he had carved out a place as one of the most influential of American Protestant theologians with his emphasis on bringing religion into harmony with human experience and nature.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.