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“To Sing with the Spirit:” Psalms, Hymns and the Spirituality of Late Eighteen Century American Presbyterians
Alabama State University, P.O. Box 271, Montgomery, AL 36106, USA
Received: 1 November 2013; in revised form: 6 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 11 December 2013
Abstract: This paper contends that the contemporary discussion among theologians regarding the relationship between theology and spirituality can offer new insight into the eighteenth century religious world. This theological discussion has wrestled with, among other things, the questions of whether theology and spirituality are mutually exclusive and what exactly their relationship looks like. Resoundingly, theologians such as Alister McGrath, J. I. Packer, and Sandra Schneiders have concluded that any separation of the two represents a false dichotomy within Christianity. Accordingly, Christians are called to “the quest for a fulfilled and authentic Christian existence, involving the bringing together of the fundamental ideas of Christianity and the whole experience of living on the basis of, and within, the scope of the Christian faith.” Sound theology, then, necessitates living by the Spirit and vice versa. The benefit of this theological position for religious history lies in its reevaluation of the common categorization of Christians as either theologically or spiritually focused. By heeding the call of contemporary theologians and blurring these lines of distinction, historians can afford eighteen century American Christians the chance to better define themselves. Considered in this light, the actions of the Presbyterians, for instance, are freed from the manipulative “social control” framework as one of the “establishmentarian” churches. Instead, the Presbyterians reveal characteristics generally reserved for the democratically charged “sectarians,” such as a robust spiritual life compelled by music.
Keywords: Presbyterians; eighteenth-century; psalmody; hymnody; spirituality; music; theology; America
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Taylor, W.H. “To Sing with the Spirit:” Psalms, Hymns and the Spirituality of Late Eighteen Century American Presbyterians. Religions 2013, 4, 657-668.
Taylor WH. “To Sing with the Spirit:” Psalms, Hymns and the Spirituality of Late Eighteen Century American Presbyterians. Religions. 2013; 4(4):657-668.
Taylor, William H. 2013. "“To Sing with the Spirit:” Psalms, Hymns and the Spirituality of Late Eighteen Century American Presbyterians." Religions 4, no. 4: 657-668.