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Princeton vs. the New Divinity: The Meaning of Sin, Grace, Salvation, Revival

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‘We value every morsel about the Princeton worthies; may their influence long endure…The modern school think us fools, but certainly we were taught by wise men; and the proverb does not assert that walking with wise men produces folly. Finer minds than those of the Princeton tutors have seldom dwelt among the sons of men…Oh, for more Princeton theology, for it is the teaching of the Word of God.’ — C.H. SPURGEON

The new methods in evangelism aggressively promoted by Charles Grandison Finney and others in the United States in the 1830s and 40s were the logical outworking of the ‘New Divinity’, a theological system which embodied altered views of the fallen condition of man, of the kind of change brought about in regeneration, and of the possibility of attaining entire sanctification in the present life.

The main opponents of the New Divinity were the professors and teachers of Princeton Theological Seminary and College, including Archibald Alexander and Charles Hodge. During the 1830s and early 1840s they wrote extensively on the subject in the Biblical Repertory and Theological Review (later known as the Princeton Review). Some of the most significant of their articles are reprinted here.

The Princeton men were deeply convinced that the new views meant a return to old errors long rejected. If the church accepted them she would reap a bitter harvest. Time has vindicated their stance. A fresh look at what they wrote will assist in the recovery of a more biblically-based approach to preaching and evangelism today.

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Table of Contents:

  1. Regeneration – Charles Hodge
  2. The Early History of Pelagianism – Archibald Alexander
  3. Original Sin – Archibald Alexander
  4. The Inability of Sinners – Archibald Alexander
  5. The New Divinity Tried – Charles Hodge
  6. On Revivals of Religion – Albert B. Dod
  7. Sanctification – John Woodbridge
  8. Bodily Effects of Religious Excitement – Thomas Cleland