By Andrea Knutson
This examine examines how the idea that of conversion and the legacy of the doctrine of practise, as articulated in Puritan Reformed theology and transplanted to the Massachusetts Bay colony, remained an important cultural strength shaping advancements in American literature, theology, and in philosophy within the kind of pragmatism.
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Additional resources for American spaces of conversion : the conductive imaginaries of Edwards, Emerson, and James
Logic, technologia, and the Holy Spirit were all avenues to truth and knowledge of the fixed and immutable laws of God’s divine wisdom. Because it was believed that one could approach truth with certainty through the method logic afforded, a saint actively sought the truth under the guise of “receptivity” to God’s grace. This paradox is at the heart of Puritan piety because it reveals the irony behind the belief that reception to truth was a result of grasping it intellectually. As a preparationist, Shepard placed the role of God’s love within the realm of means that prepared a saint for conversion.
As such, it served as the discursive point of departure for theological ventures into characterizing and determining the ontological boundaries between a saint and God that became confused in the course of experience. This chapter examines the narratives of confession Thomas Shepard collected as tests for church membership in order to uncover how congregants understood their pursuit of belief in the process of conversion, specifically as it is conceived in the New World. As essentially narrative reconstructions of the movement of the will toward truth, the confessions present the workings of consciousness as each saint moves through experience.
45 As personal expressions of Shepard’s ministerial soteriology, we can expect the saints to focus their narratives on the stages associated with conviction, compunction, and humiliation. Accordingly, because New England becomes reconceived as a means within that soteriology, we can expect to find a lay understanding and expression of New England’s place within that doctrine of preparation. Shepard was aware of the power that language had to bind a community of saints together and to prevent isolation from that group identity, and he was aware of that same power to also inhibit grace.