Religion and Violence in Early American Methodism

Religion and Violence in Early American Methodism

Taking the Kingdom by Force
Jeffrey Williams
Distribution: World
Publication date: 04/22/2010
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-35444-0
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Early American Methodists commonly described their religious lives as great wars with sin and claimed they wrestled with God and Satan who assaulted them in terrible ways. Carefully examining a range of sources, including sermons, letters, autobiographies, journals, and hymns, Jeffrey Williams explores this violent aspect of American religious life and thought. Williams exposes Methodism’s insistence that warfare was an inevitable part of Christian life and necessary for any person who sought God’s redemption. He reveals a complex relationship between religion and violence, showing how violent expression helped to provide context and meaning to Methodist thought and practice, even as Methodist religious life was shaped by both peaceful and violent social action.

Author Bio

Jeffrey Williams is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University.


“Engages a different literature on spirituality, namely its violent dimensions . . . extraordinarily well written, immensely important, and groundbreaking work.”
 — Russell E. Richey, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Catherine L. Albanese and Stephen J. Stein

1. Fighting the Good Fight
2. Contesting the Good Fight: Warfare and the American Revolution
3. The Power to "Kill and Make Alive": The Spiritual Battle and the Body in Post-Revolutionary America
4. Beating Their Plowshares into Swords: Methodists and Violence in Antebellum America
5. Methodist Respectability and the Decline of the Good Fight for Salvation
6. The Christian's Warfare and Social Violence


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