PRELUDE TO IRONY
The Princeton Theology and the Practice of
American Presbyterian Missions in Northern Siam, 1867-1880
Herbert R. Swanson
A Dissertation submitted for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
The Melbourne College of Divinity, Melbourne University
Electronic Version 2012
|Table of Contents||Abstract||Illust. & Tables||Introduction||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6||Conclusion||Appendices||Bibliography|
The Historical and Cultural Settings of the Laos Mission
2. The Historical Context
2.1 The Founding of the Laos Mission
2.2 The North
2.3 The Presbyterians
3. The Theological Context
3.1 Reformed Confessionalism
3.2 Common Sense Philosophy
The question before us in this dissertation concerns the Laos Mission's practice of missions during its pioneer period, 1867-1880. Why, most particularly, did it use strategies and methods that proved ineffective evangelistically? The question itself is relatively simple, but the answer involves a complex set of historical and ideological-theological contexts that require some description before it can be addressed directly. The immediate historical context included the pre-history of the Laos Mission, the history of northern Siam, and the history of the Presbyterian Church U. S. A. (PCUSA). The larger theological and ideological context also comprised three key elements: Reformed confessionalism, Scottish Common Sense Philosophy, and American evangelicalism. It was from within this complex, interlocking set of contexts that the Laos Mission created its early mission program.
The Laos Mission, when founded in April 1867, stood at the confluence of three historical streams. The first of these included both the early history of Protestant missions in Siam and the particular sequence of events that led to the founding of the Laos Mission itself. The second historical stream comprised the rich and varied history of the northern Thai principalities, including most especially Chiang Mai—a history that has still received less scholarly attention than it deserves. The final historical stream, the history of American Presbyterianism, flowed into the North from halfway around the globe and, for that reason, is not usually understood to be relevant to the world of central and northern Siam. It was.
Three dates stand out as defining moments in the pre-history of the Laos Mission. In 1567, the first two Christian missionaries, Catholic Dominicans, reached the city of Ayutthaya and thereby initiated formal Christian missions in what is now modern-day Thailand. In 1828, two representatives of the London Missionary Society (LMS) arrived in Bangkok, marking the advent of the Protestant missionary movement in Siam. Just twelve years later, in 1840, the American Presbyterians landed their first missionary couple, the Rev. William and Seignoria Buell, in Bangkok. By the 1860s, the Presbyterians had established themselves as the dominant Protestant missionary presence in Siam, a role they continued to play until after the Second World War.
Of these three dates, the first is the least relevant to this study. Missionary Protestantism and Catholicism in Siam evinced highly antagonistic attitudes towards each other and went their separate ways with a minimum of contact. The arrival of the first Protestant missionaries in 1828 was much more significant. Although the LMS remained for only a brief period, representatives of two other mission agencies, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) and the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Union (ABFMU), arrived in the 1830s and put Protestant missions in Siam on a permanent footing. Bertha McFarland points out that the early Presbyterians depended on the assistance and support of these other two missions to the point that the Presbyterian Siam Mission could be seen as a branch grafted onto their efforts. All three of these early Protestant missions, including the Presbyterians, worked under serious disadvantages, particularly climate, travel, and official opposition to their stated goal of evangelizing the Thai people. Eventually, both the American Board and the Baptists withdrew from Siam to pursue work in China. The Presbyterians also nearly left, but the accession of King Mongkut to the throne in 1851 brought a beneficial reversal of government policy towards Christian missions. By the 1860s, the Presbyterians were firmly established in Bangkok and had begun their expansion into the hinterlands.
From the very beginning, the Protestant missionaries hoped to establish mission stations beyond the confines of Bangkok itself, but Thai government policies and the realities of working in Siam prevented them from doing so until after 1860. They focused most of these early hopes for expansion on Siam's northern interior. Dr. Dan Beach Bradley, the leading Protestant missionary in Siam during the nineteenth century, took the first concrete steps towards founding a northern Siam mission. He developed contacts with northern princes visiting Bangkok, including the Prince of Chiang Mai, Chao Kawilorot, and he also visited resettled Laotians from northeastern Siam, who were living near Phet Buri, south of Bangkok. These experiences led him in 1860 and 1861 to propose to his sending board, the American Missionary Association (AMA), that they fund the establishment of a "Laos Mission." The AMA responded sympathetically, but it did not have the financial resources to undertake such a project and turned down his request.
Although Bradley himself did not found a mission among the northern Thai, his daughter, Sophia, and her Presbyterian missionary husband, the Rev. Daniel McGilvary, caught his vision and made it a reality. Through the good offices of Dr. Bradley, McGilvary established his own contacts both with the northern princes, again particularly Chao Kawilorot of Chiang Mai, and the Laotian war captives of Phet Buri. Repeated invitations from a government official in Phet Buri eventually led the McGilvarys and another missionary couple to found the Phet Buri Station in June 1861. McGilvary later stated that his most pleasant memories of Phet Buri "cluster about scenes in Lao villages." He affirmed that, "My labours among them increased the desire, already awakened in me, to reach the home of the race." He took another important step in that direction when his classmate at Princeton Seminary, the Rev. Jonathan Wilson, joined him on an exploratory trip of northern Siam, reaching Chiang Mai on 7 January 1864. The city impressed McGilvary as being neat and regular, progressive, and law-abiding, and the people seemed to him more sincerely religious than the central Thai. He assessed Chao Kawilorot's rule as firm but not tyrannical, and he felt well satisfied with what he saw in Chiang Mai. The prospect of a Laos Mission excited him more than ever. He believed that the Presbyterian missionaries had received a special, providential "call" to occupy Chiang Mai, and he all but begged the church in America to see that the present moment, 1864, was "God's time" and God's time was the best time for action. A whole nation, a race depended on that action.
Mission time proved to be slower than God's time. Sophia McGilvary fell ill. The Siam Mission found itself shorthanded, a common experience in its early years. Financial resources were slim. It even appeared that the McGilvarys would not be involved in the opening of a station in Chiang Mai because of the shortage of personnel in the Siam Mission. All of this caused McGilvary some discouragement, but by July 1866 prospects for the proposed northern mission improved. It was clear that the McGilvarys were the only ones available for the North, McGilvary's spirits lifted, and, as Sophia put it, the "old desire has returned and taken possession of Daniel."
After years of waiting, when the opportunity came at the end of August 1866 to open the new mission in Chiang Mai, it came with a rush. Chao Kawilorot, the Prince of Chiang Mai, was in Bangkok at that time on what appeared to be an extended visit, and McGilvary had planned to go up to Bangkok one day to get Kawilorot's official permission for a mission to Chiang Mai. He saw no need to hurry. The matter that brought Kawilorot to Bangkok, however, was settled more quickly than expected, and he planned to return to Chiang Mai much sooner than anticipated. When that news reached Phet Buri at the end of August, it set McGilvary in motion. He rushed to Bangkok, a two-day trip, where he arrived on Tuesday evening, 28 August 1866, and lodged with his in-laws, the Bradleys. They agreed that evening that the McGilvarys should go to Chiang Mai, and Dr. Bradley accompanied McGilvary when he went to see Chao Kawilorot the next morning. The Prince stated he felt quite willing to have the McGilvarys move to Chiang Mai and offered them both land and timber for a house. That same Wednesday, in the evening, McGilvary met with a hastily called session of the Siam Mission and received formal permission to withdraw from Phet Buri and establish a new station in Chiang Mai. He next consulted with the U.S. Consul in Bangkok, who consented to write a formal letter requesting the Bangkok government's permission for the McGilvary family to take up residence in Chiang Mai. Obtaining that permission proved to be the most difficult hurdle of all. A high government representative first visited Chao Kawilorot on Saturday, 8 September 1866—with McGilvary and others in tow—to ascertain his feelings officially, and then the government had to process the paperwork before everything was official. Finally, however, the Bangkok government gave permission for the McGilvarys to move to Chiang Mai. All that remained was the trip upriver to Chiang Mai. The McGilvarys left Bangkok on 3 January 1867. Plans called for the Wilsons to leave the following dry season. Bradley's vision and McGilvary's "old desire" for a northern mission was about to become a reality.
Northern Siam in 1867, when the McGilvarys first arrived, was divided into five tributary states, each known by the name of its chief city and separated from its sister states by mountains and forest. The mountainous geography of the region allowed each of the states—Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, and Nan—to enjoy considerable independence from the Bangkok government and each other. The people were mostly rural peasants, who cultivated rice, engaged in some trade, and enjoyed a degree of personal freedom because of a scarcity of labor.
Although something of a backwater in the 1860s, Chiang Mai and the other cities of the North had a proud tradition that dated back some six hundred years. Recorded history began in the region in the eighth century when the Mon first introduced "higher" civilization, their capital and cultural center being Haripunjaya, the modern Lamphun. The northern Thai appeared in the region at some time in about the twelfth century. They belonged to the great family of Tai peoples that has since spread itself from Ahom in northeast India through parts of Burma and southern China to modern day Thailand, Laos, and northern Vietnam. Little is known about the early history of the Tai, including the northern Thai, before the thirteenth century. They seem to have been an upland people living in small city-states (muang) on the fringes of the great Southeast Asian empires of their day. They were already Theravada Buddhists who had religious links with Singhalese Buddhism. During the thirteenth century, a group of Tai states emerged including, prominently, the Kingdom of Lan Na (lan na meaning "a million rice fields"), founded by King Mangrai beginning in 1259 when he became king of Chiang Saen. Mangrai created a large unified state through the conquest of his neighbors, culminating in the capture of Haripunjaya in 1281. In 1296, he began construction of his chiang mai, his "New City," which became the capital of the Lan Na Kingdom. Later generations revered him as a great lawgiver and the author of the mangraisat, the laws of Mangrai.
After Mangrai died in 1317, the Lan Na Kingdom experienced dizzying rounds of advance and decline, at times reaching the heights of cultural renaissance while at other times succumbing to political turmoil. The kingdom went into permanent decline after King Müang Kao's death in 1526, partly because of the failings of the rulers who followed him and partly because of the rising power of Burma. The Burmese successfully captured Chiang Mai in 1558, ending Lan Na independence. The region entered into more than two centuries of chaos as increasingly harsh Burmese rule led to numerous revolts, to the point that by the early eighteenth century political, social, and economic dislocation rendered the Lan Na cultural heritage a shadow of its former greatness. For much of the eighteenth century a reduced Chiang Mai state retained a semblance of independence, although the rest of the northern Thai states remained firmly under Burmese control. Chiang Mai and Lampang finally won permanent freedom from Burma in 1776 with the aid of King Taksin of Siam; but it was not until 1804 that northern Thai forces finally evicted the Burmese permanently from all five northern states.
With the defeat of the Burmese by the combined forces of the North and Bangkok, the five states became semi-independent tributaries (prathetsarat) of Siam, and one man, Chao Kawila of Lampang, emerged as the dominant political power in the North. He became the Prince of Chiang Mai and with his six brothers, known collectively as the "Seven Princes," directly ruled Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Lampang. The Seven Princes initiated a period of restoration under Kawila's leadership that included, notably, raids on and wars with neighboring peoples with the aim of "importing" captive populations into the North to re-populate its depleted countryside. In this new era, family and personal rather than bureaucratic relationships ruled northern Thai life, and local leaders and the common people enjoyed a large measure of independence and security. For the next century the clan of the Seven Princes dominated northern Thai politics and provided the region with badly needed stability.
Nineteenth-century northern Thai society was a hierarchical society based on patron-client relationships and divided into four large classes: rulers (chao), peasants (phrai), slaves and subject peoples, and the monkhood. These classes, other than the monks, appear to have also been somewhat loosely defined. Every phrai, in any event, owed allegiance and free labor, corvée, to one chao or another on a regular basis. Members of the families of the Seven Princes occupied the higher ranks of the chao in several of the states. By the 1860s, the five northern Thai tributary states had for some fifty years or more enjoyed a measure of peace, cultural resurgence, and economic growth. They maintained extensive relations with other regions, and northern Thai traders evidently ranged far and wide across that larger region. They had also begun to experience the first tremors of the even greater economic, political, and social changes to come, and the Bangkok government was beginning to take a more active hand in the appointing of the northern princes—even for Chiang Mai. British lumbermen began to move into the North more aggressively, bringing with them important economic changes. The Presbyterian missionaries in the 1860s and 1870s were themselves heralds of and participants in these great changes that have been variously labeled by historians as the "modernization," "Westernization," "centralization," "Siamese-ization," or even "bureaucratization" of northern Siam.
When the McGilvary family arrived in Chiang Mai in April 1867, then, they found the city in a stable, perhaps even prosperous condition. The relatively benign political system of interlocking personal relationships dominated by the extended families of the Seven Princes was still in effect, and Chao Kawilorot, the son of Chao Kawila, ruled the city with a strong hand. On hindsight, it is clear that the city had already entered a new period in its history, one that would see it fully incorporated into the Siamese nation-state. The combination of local stability and the increasing influence of Bangkok allowed them to surf the waves of repression they sometimes experienced from the Chiang Mai government and to establish themselves, by 1880, as permanent fixtures.
The Laos Mission was an American Presbyterian mission, representing a theological and institutional tradition that historians trace back to the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland, particularly but not exclusively to the work and thought of John Calvin (1509-1564). The "Reformed" tradition of Calvin and others soon spread into several other parts of Europe, most notably France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain, and in the course of things it flowed through these nations into colonial America. English Puritanism, Scottish Presbyterianism, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism formed the dominant sources of the colonial American Presbyterian Church. Churches of a Presbyterian persuasion began to appear on Long Island in the 1640s, and by 1700, a growing number of such congregations, made up of New England as well as British immigrants, were scattered across the Middle Colonies and into the upper South. Under the leadership of the Rev. Francis Makemie, these churches formed the Presbytery in 1706 and then in 1716 reorganized themselves as the General Synod, comprising three presbyteries.
During the 1720s, the Presbyterians entered a period of increasing tension that found its clergy divided into several factions over a number of related issues. Those issues included whether or not clergy had to "subscribe" formally to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the rights of the Synod to control who preached in the local churches, the educational and spiritual qualifications for the clergy, and the role of the laity in church life. By the 1730s, these disputes were taking place in the context of a controversial colonial revivalist movement in which certain Presbyterian clergy played a key role in the Middle Colonies. Matters came to a head in the early 1740s when a faction of revivalist, or "New Side," Presbyterians withdrew from the Synod to be joined in 1745 by another group of churches to form the Synod of New York. The "Old Side" retained control of what became known as the Synod of Philadelphia. The two Synods reunited in 1758 as the Synod of New York and Philadelphia. In the midst of these events, New Side leaders founded the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in 1746; the college struggled under a succession of presidents until it finally achieved stability under the Rev. John Witherspoon (1723-1794), a widely known and respected Scottish pastor who became the college's president in 1768. Witherspoon proved to be a moderating influence among American Presbyterians and became the most singly prominent Presbyterian leader in the later colonial era.
In spite of the many difficulties colonial Presbyterians experienced in the last three decades of the eighteenth century due to the American Revolution (1776-1781) and its aftermath, the Presbyterian Church emerged from that century as the largest and most influential American religious body outside of New England. In 1789, it reconstituted the Synod as the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA), comprising four synods and 16 presbyteries. The Presbyterians lost their numerical preeminence in the early decades of the nineteenth century for a number of reasons including PCUSA's general coolness toward "hot" revivalism and its failure to provide adequate pastoral oversight for frontier churches. Even so, the denomination did grow rapidly, strengthened its institutional structures, and in 1812 took an important step towards increasing the number of trained clergy by founding Princeton Theological Seminary.
The nineteenth century brought new tensions, ones that would fundamentally influence the Laos Mission itself. Early in the century, the PCUSA had developed an alliance in frontier regions with the New England Congregationalists, a relationship that threatened to shift the theological demographics of the denomination away from the traditionalist "Old School" toward the theologically somewhat more innovative "New School." The PCUSA's reliance on a set of national, non-denominational voluntary associations controlled by the Congregationalist-New School "alliance" to carry out various ecclesiastical outreach and educational functions reinforced Old School fears of a growing trend in theological laxity. Those associations included the ABCFM, the American Sunday School Union, the American Education Society, the American Home Missionary Society, and numerous other national, state, and local associations. By the 1830s, the Old School was up in arms over these perceived dangers to the theological orthodoxy and purity of the PCUSA; and after some years of theological tension and agitation it obtained a majority in the 1837 General Assembly, abrogated cooperation with the Congregationalists, and voted to excise four New School-dominated synods. Other presbyteries and local churches joined with the exiled synods to form a New School General Assembly, which claimed to be the legitimate PCUSA. After 1837, thus, there were two Presbyterian denominations each using the name of PCUSA. Among the most important acts of the 1837 Old School General Assembly, after it expelled the New School, was the formation of a new Board of Foreign Missions as one of several major agencies of the church. The Siam Mission and Laos Mission were both agencies of the Old School church and board.
For the next quarter of a century the Old and New School churches went their separate ways while the vast, sad crisis over slavery increasingly dominated the United States' national agenda. The issue split most of the major Protestant denominations as well as the whole of society, but the Old School General Assembly preserved its unity until the Civil War broke out in 1861, at which time its southern synods and presbyteries left to form the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America. That split would last for more than a century. Even as the American Civil War drove Northern and Southern Presbyterians apart, however, the passage of time slowly brought the northern Old School and New School churches closer together. The theological issues that so concerned the Old School proved to be of no lasting consequence, and as the New School Church developed its own structures it became increasingly similar to the Old School in form. In 1862, the two denominations opened talks on their future relations, which discussions culminated in their reunion in 1869.
The founding of the Laos Mission in 1867, then, took place in a brief period of calm when the denominational storms of the past were dying away in irrelevancy while the later nineteenth-century controversies over the nature of Scripture and Darwinian evolution had yet to break out in full force. It is well to recall, however, that all nine of the mission's pioneer members were products of that earlier era when being "Old School" was filled with deep, potent meaning. Even though the Old School reunited with the New School just two years after the McGilvarys reached Chiang Mai, in important measure the Laos Mission remained a child of that earlier era. It was Old School.
The Princeton Theology was also Old School Presbyterian. It was somewhat more moderate and even broadminded than Old School "radicals" might have wished, but by the time McGilvary and Wilson had graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1856, their mentors' theology had gained wide currency throughout the Old School, including its seminaries, colleges, and churches. It had become, indeed, one of the most influential American theologies.
As its name suggests, the Princeton Theology was created by a succession of professors at Princeton Seminary. Noll identifies three men as standing in the first rank of the Princetonians, namely Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), Charles Hodge (1797-1878), and Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921). In the second rank, he places A. A. Hodge (1823-1886) as preeminent, along with James W. Alexander (1804-1859), Joseph A. Alexander (1809-1860), Lyman Atwater (1813-1883), William H. Green (1825-1900), and J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937). Noll's list could well be augmented with a third rank by adding the names of a large number of others, many of them Princeton Seminary graduates, who taught the Princeton orthodoxy in Presbyterian seminaries and colleges throughout the United States. Emerging with the founding of Princeton Seminary in 1812, the Princeton Theology can be said to have come to its end in 1929 with the reorganization of the seminary and the consequent withdrawal of a number of orthodox professors and students under the leadership of Machen.
The Princeton theologians taught an eclectic theological system pieced together from a diverse range of intellectual sources, the mere enumeration of which reads like a who's who of Western philosophical and theological thought. Bouwsma's warning that any attempt to identify the sources of Calvin's thought would be all but fruitless applies with equal force to the Princetonians as well. Still, it is possible to identify three major strands in their thought, these being: first, Reformed confessional theology, also known as Reformed orthodoxy or scholasticism; second, Scottish Enlightenment Common Sense Philosophy; and, finally, American evangelicalism. Some commentators add a fourth strand, a commitment to the Bible, but the biblical emphasis was itself a key element in both the Reformed and evangelical traditions. Princeton, in sum, was confessional, commonsensical, and evangelical.
If there was a dominant strand in Princeton's theology, it was what has until recently been known almost universally as "Calvinism." Scholars of the history of theology have come to realize that John Calvin (1509-1564) was only one of several important architects of the Reformed theological tradition and prefer thus to use broader, perhaps less tainted terms. In his survey of Reformed history, González has identified several predecessors to Calvin, notably Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), and a succession of key theologians after Calvin who transformed the thinking of the earlier Reformers into Reformed confessionalism, including Peter Martyr Vergmili (1499-1562), Jerome Zanchi (1516-1590), Theodore Beza (1519-1605), and Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583). Central to the process of giving birth to this new movement was the amalgamation of the federal theology of Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575) with that of Calvin. Donnelly points to the importance of Martyr and Zanchi, Italian Reformed converts trained in Thomistic scholasticism, who contributed significantly to shifting Reformed thought away from Calvin and Luther's more christocentric and biblical theologies towards "a revival of philosophical theology for apologetic ends." To this mix of thinkers and thoughts, Bullinger, meanwhile, contributed an emphasis on "federal" or "covenantal" theology, which provided further impetus to the emergence of a distinctive Reformed confessionalism that affirmed that God makes covenants with humanity and is faithful in keeping those covenants.
Since the Princetonians, especially Hodge, are frequently described as being the last of the Reformed "scholastic" theologians, we would do well here to pause long enough to flesh out what it meant to be Reformed and scholastic, or confessional, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Drawing most especially on Thomas Aquinas' medieval scholasticism, Reformed confessionalism shared with him a deep concern with theological method and the construction of logically consistent, coherent theological systems. Reformed theologians understood theology to be a scientific enterprise that relied upon fundamental principles as the building blocks of its system while placing a great deal of trust in the human mind's ability to achieve a rational knowledge of God through intense speculative inquiry into metaphysical questions having to do with divine nature and will. Reformed confessionalism, thus, gave a large place to reason that tended to emphasize formal doctrine, sometimes at the expense of personal piety. Reformed confessionalism also tended, consequently, to divest the Bible of its historical moorings and turn it into a body of unchanging divine truths necessary to the construction of a rational, methodical, and scientific explanation and defense of the Christian faith. Its practitioners feared ignorance as being the real cause of sin and put forward education as the best way to inculcate faith. Reformed confessionalism paid particular attention to the question of predestination. Phillips makes it clear that Reformed confessionalism majored, as it were, in epistemological issues—in questions of knowledge—and especially sought to discover not only what is known about God and reality but also the sources or causes of that knowledge. Phillips writes, "Indeed among the Reformed scholastics there is a new emphasis upon a formal analysis of theological knowledge. The whole sphere of theological knowledge was subjected to a new and sustained examination of its ontological and epistemological principles."
The Reformed search for a clear, defensible, and exclusive theology proved to be an intensely controversial enterprise as various theological school's argued over how best to express the Reformed faith. These conflicts generated repeated formal confessional statements prepared by councils seeking to define the content and limits of acceptable Reformed doctrine. Among those confessions, the brief statement of Reformed confessional beliefs issued by the Synod of Dort (1619), in the white heat of debate with the followers of Jacob Arminius (1560-1609), proved to be a classic reformulation of Reformed confessionalism. The Arminians advocated a more moderate form of Reformed faith that seemed to make salvation dependent in part on human faith, and the Synod of Dort intended to correct their dangerous theological tendencies with a clear orthodox statement of acceptable Reformed doctrine. That statement described five tenets of the faith as central, incontrovertible Christian truth. They included: first, God's free, unconditional election of the saved; second, the efficacy of Christ's atonement was limited only to the elect; third, because of Adam's fall from grace (Genesis 3) humanity is totally depraved, that is corrupt and helpless; fourth, God alone graciously regenerates humanity, which cannot resist or reject divine grace; and fifth, once elected to salvation, the elect cannot fall away from grace. McGrath cautions, however, that it is impossible to summarize the broad range of Reformed thought in one confession; it is the "scholastic approach" to theology as especially employed by the later generations of Reformed thinkers that most aptly defines Reformed confessionalism. While McGrath is correct, Reformed theologians from Calvin down to the Princetonians did share a number of theological concerns and concentrated on several common issues. They all emphasized divine sovereignty. They held that humanity is completely depraved and unable to work out its own salvation. The origin of human sin in Adam concerned them mightily, and they labored endlessly over the mechanics of God's grace, particularly the absolute division between those God chose for eternal life and those left to their deserved fate of eternal punishment—the infamous question of predestination. Approaches, emphases, and conclusions could and did differ radically, but these core concerns persisted.
The Princeton theologians were Reformed scholastics in their methodology: they had a clearly apologetical agenda; they approached theology rationally, methodologically, and systematically; they focused on epistemological issues; they affirmed that theology is a scientific, academic enterprise; and they usually had a limited sense of history. Some two hundred years, however, stood between them and the classical era of Reformed confessionalism, which lasted until nearly the end of the seventeenth century. Princeton had direct recourse to that era through the writings of the key figures in Reformed theology, most especially Francis Turretin (1623-1687), whose ponderous tome, Institutio theologiae electicae, was the seminary's basic theological text until the 1870s. Equally important sources of influence were the two main channels of British Reformed thought by which later generations of Presbyterians brought the Reformed faith to North America, English Puritanism and Scottish Presbyterianism. Although widely influenced by the larger Reformed confessional movement, many of the Scottish and English sources of American Reformed thought drew on the federal conception of theology, mentioned above. They also made greater room for the more affective side of Reformed piety, allowing them a warmer piety than seemed to be generally the case among the European Reformed scholastics.
If the Princetonians were Reformed scholastics, it remains also true that they shared in the Reformed genius for re-inventing ample portions of its theological systems in new contexts. Kennedy insists, consequently, that Hodge was not an "Old Calvinist" in the seventeenth century sense of that term. Eighteenth-century Enlightenment rationalism, nineteenth-century American evangelicalism, and the democratic "spirit of America" all played their parts in transforming the old confessionalism into Hodge's nineteenth-century American version of it. There was, that is, more than one piece to Princeton's pie.
Princeton stood heir, on the one hand, to a Reformed confessional and medieval scholastic past, and, on the other hand, it was born out of the intellectual and religious ferment of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment. An illustrious succession of thinkers and experimenters, from Copernicus (1473-1543) to Newton (1642-1727), gave birth to modern Western science and, in the process, gradually removed the Earth from the center of the universe, humanity from the apex of creation, and ghostly beings from a meaningful place in daily life. Although the early scientists were mostly Christians engaged in the exploration of God's created order, their discoveries posed new issues for theology and philosophy; one of the most important of those issues was epistemology, the problem of the origins and nature of human knowledge.
The particular chain of thinkers that eventually led to Princeton began with Rene Descartes (1596-1650), who typified the issues facing Christian philosophers in adjusting traditional Western understanding to scientific learning. Descartes sought to integrate the older, "idealistic" worldview with its belief in God and the human soul into the emerging "realist" scientific understanding of the physical world. His desired an absolutely certain knowledge of reality based on the model of mathematics with its precise demonstrations, definition of terms, and axioms, and he employed radical doubt to reach his goal. Descartes doubted everything, and out of that skepticism discovered, first, that he himself, the doubter, must be thinking since doubt is a form of thought, which implies that there must be a doubter. He, therefore, must exist (his famous cogito ergo sum). He also reasoned that he could not himself have conceived of a perfect Deity unless God had first planted the idea in his thinking. God, therefore, must also exist. This much was not difficult because Descartes held that true reality is spiritual, interior reality. What proved difficult was to cross over the vast chasm he perceived between his mind and his body with the same math-like certainty and precision. His radical mind-body dualism eventually left him no recourse but to affirm that he could be sure that the physical world is real only because of his faith that the good Creator of all reality would not mislead us on this point. Our divinely given "innate knowledge" of exterior realities is for that reason trustworthy.
Thilly and Wood conclude their discussion of Descartes by pinning on him two hefty labels. He was, they argue, a dogmatist who believed that we can obtain sure knowledge through the exercise of reason. He was also a realist. He believed in the real existence of the physical world precisely because of his dogmatic trust in human reason.
Descartes foreshadowed important themes that quietly, almost imperceptibly suffused Princeton Seminary's instruction of students like McGilvary and Wilson: faith in and defense of an absolutely secure knowledge of reality; emphasis on exploring and trusting human consciousness; mind-body dualism; and even the concept of "innate knowledge." In some ways, the most important of these themes is the paradigm shift that gave final consideration not to inherited sources of authority but to interior human consciousness. That paradigm shift became standard fare for those who followed Descartes, beginning with Locke.
John Locke (1632-1704) rejected Descartes' innate ideas but retained the vast Cartesian gulf between mind and body. Across that gulf he threw a frail bridge of "intuitive knowledge," knowledge that cannot be proven and yet is the irresistible and self-evident ground of all certain human knowledge. Intuitive knowledge alone, Locke argued, assures us of our own self-existence, and reason based on intuition is the source of our secure knowledge of God. As for the physical world, Locke affirmed its existence as more of a matter of faith than anything else; it seems real, feels real, involves pain, and so, he reasoned, it must be real. We know the world through sensation and reflection. Knowledge of the physical world is indirect and only probable, however, since it and all of our knowledge is composed of "ideas" about reality rather than direct contact with reality. Because of the limitations on human knowing, we can never be sure if our ideas of external objects are a true analog of those objects or not, although Locke did insist that the physical world is real. All we can be sure of is the existence of ourselves and of God, and Locke shared Descartes' sense that the cognitive and spiritual is more immediately real to us than the physical. Allen states of Locke's contribution to the epistemological debates of early modern Europe that, "Locke's work, with its stress on probability, was a balanced position between scepticism and certainty." Events proved it a precarious balance at best.
Locke made important adjustments to Descartes that reappeared in the Princeton Theology. He especially replaced innate ideas with intuitive knowledge, bringing philosophy one step closer to Princeton's Enlightenment concept of "first principles." Both Princeton and Locke also treated metaphysical and physical realities as being analogous to each other. Our consciousness, that is, is the ultimate source of our knowledge, and what we discover within that consciousness parallels the world that exists outside of us; inner and outer realities can be described and discussed in a similar fashion. Locke presaged Princeton's belief that we can obtain a working, if limited, knowledge of God by enlarging to an infinite degree certain characteristics of human experience, such as power to omnipotence and knowledge to omniscience. The analogy between human consciousness and other realities would prove to be a potent weapon in Princeton's arsenal of divinity.
George Berkeley (1685-1753) built on Locke's assertions that all we know are ideas and that secure knowledge is found only in human consciousness. He concluded that we cannot be sure that there is a physical world; indeed, in a crusade against materialism and atheism, Berkeley proposed to do away with the existence of matter entirely. To speak of an object as existing when there is no mind to perceive it is to speak in meaningless abstractions; qualities such as color, sound, and weight only reside in the mind of the person perceiving them. Berkeley went on, however, to account for the apparent solidity, coherence, and orderliness of physical reality by arguing that God has benevolently placed all of this in us as ideas to the end that we might lead orderly lives. All that is securely left to humanity is the divine gift of ideas.
Locke surveyed the Cartesian canyon between mind and body with God above and avowed the reality of all three—mind, body, and God. Berkeley stood at the same precipice and claimed that there is no canyon at all, only mind and God. David Hume (1711-1776) took his own look and decided that while it is common sense to think that God exists and the body is real there is no way of proving either because all we can know is our own ideas, not any realities beyond them. Thilly and Wood state,
Hume's view is empirical: our knowledge has its source in experience; it is positivistic: our knowledge is limited to the world of phenomena; it is agnostic: we know nothing of ultimates, substances, causes, soul, ego, external world, universe; it is humanistic: the human mental world is the only legitimate sphere of science and inquiry.
Hume denied that humans can know whether what we perceive as cause and effect is real; all we know with certainty is that two events are normally, in our experience or way of thinking, associated with each other. We have no means to prove that they are necessarily associated or will continue to be associated with each other in the future. Hume denied that humanity could know anything of the nature of God, even if God exists; human knowing is too frail and uncertain to attain knowledge of things divine. He scornfully rejected arguments from an imperfect "creation" to a perfect "Creator".
Hume put the Christian theological enterprise at incredible risk. Howe observes that, "Since patristic times, Western thinkers had engaged in metaphysical speculation. With Hume, the enterprise had led to bankruptcy. Men could know nothing about ultimate reality." The consequences for modern science were equally dire. Bozeman states of Hume's philosophy, "Thus the manifest premise of the scientific movement, that there is an actual 'system of bodies' governed by causal relations and accessible to the inquiring mind, had ceased to be philosophically intelligible." One must emphasize that what was at stake in Hume, to use the language of philosophy, was epistemology not ontology. Hume simply wanted to demonstrate that it is untenable to think we can gain knowledge of the existence of God and physical reality by the exercise of human reason. Grave points out that, "Hume's scepticism was provisional; it is where reason would leave us, but where reason leaves us, Nature takes over imperatively." Hume, in any event, represented an incalculable threat to the alliance of faith and science, one that had to be answered. The Scottish philosophers of Common Sense stepped forward to take up that challenge and provide that answer.
A Scottish cleric and professor, Thomas Reid (1710-1796), is frequently credited with founding Common Sense Philosophy and, in any event, stands as a chief architect in the development of the moderate, Scottish Enlightenment answer to Hume. As convinced of the grand gap between mental and physical realities as any of those who went before, Reid and his compatriots came to a different conclusion about it. First, Reid denied that all we can know are ideas or that we even have "ideas" in the sense meant by Locke. He studied his own mind and found nothing in it that stood between his consciousness of other realities and those realities themselves; he failed to discover, that is, a third entity called "ideas". Second, he affirmed the every day common sense of common people; what they know to be true is so immediate and so entirely convincing to them that they do not stop to consider the possibility of denying that reality. Causes have effects. The physical world is real. No one questions these and many other "first principles" of human knowing. It is absurd to do so. Reid ridiculed Hume for doubting the existence of physical reality while continuing to write on tables rather than thin air and to walk through doors rather than walls. All human languages, furthermore, reflect these first principles, which shows that they are truly inherent in universal human consciousness and, thus, gives further proof of their divine origin.
Reid did not think he could prove that the physical world is real in a philosophical sense, but he did think that the very construction of human consciousness affirmed its reality as being commonsensical. Agreeing with his predecessors that God exists, Reid argued that God would not have created senses in us that lied about reality; the very fact of our unquestioning, immediate, and overwhelming belief in what we sense shows that God has given us the ability to know the world as it actually exists. We, thus, truly know external objects and their qualities because they simply "arise from innate principles of mind." Our assurance that our knowledge of those objects is reliable requires "no justification because they are evident in themselves without the use of reasoning." Still, humanity does not have an innate knowledge of the principles by which it acquires knowledge and must carefully study human consciousness for them, according to the "inductive method" of research that Reid believed was first proposed by Francis Bacon (1561-1626). The Baconian approach to knowledge was a circumspect one that proceeded from a comprehensive gathering of facts through a discrete arrangement of the facts to a considered estimation of their lessons. The result was a philosophy that gave enthusiastic support to the study of the natural sciences, trusted the senses, affirmed the reality of the physical world, and yet kept a tight reign on the scientific method and shunned abstraction. It celebrated facts and took the Newtonian world to be God's world.
At the last, Reid departed from Hume over the epistemological question of whether humanity can know God or not. Hume felt skeptical that we can know God or the existence of anything supposedly created by God; we have to live by common sense as if the unknowable God does exist and as if our senses are reliable regarding an otherwise unknowable world. Reid disagreed profoundly on what can only be termed metaphysical and theological grounds. He affirmed, beyond any possibility of empirical verification, that all of reality, even that which is unobserved, is what we judge it to be by the principles of common sense because he believed in a Divine Creator who, as we have noted already, created it "the way it is." The result is what some philosophers term Reid's "providential naturalism."
Common Sense Philosophy had an immense impact on the United States. It dominated academic instruction, particularly in higher education, to the extent that Hoveler concludes, "the Scottish thinkers were familiar to five generations of American college students. Indeed they dominated American academic thought for almost a century." On a larger scale, Hovenkamp finds that "the Scottish Realist method of understanding the world became practically identified with the evangelical point of view." Since the publication in 1955 of Ahlstrom's groundbreaking article on Common Sense Philosophy's impact on American theology, the particular impact of Scotland on Princeton has become one of the grand, commonplace facts of the study of the Princeton Theology. The evidence for that relationship was always in plain view in the Princeton circle's theological literature—at times exquisitely and overtly so, such as in a series of articles written for the Princeton Review by Samuel Tyler, an amateur Baconian philosopher and widely appreciated Princeton fellow-traveler. The Princeton professors and their students were counted in the first rank of those who most enthusiastically and systematically embraced this Scottish Enlightenment import.
Antebellum American Protestant evangelicalism emerged as a dominant force in nineteenth-century American religious life; the word "evangelical" itself, however, designates a creature of such grand diversity and plurality as almost to defy definition. If one seeks to understand what it meant to be an American evangelical before 1860, however, at least three broad themes commend themselves as central to the evangelical experience. First, theologically, evangelicals were moving away from America's colonial Reformed heritage with its emphasis on predestination and election towards a more Arminian understanding of conversion and salvation. God's wrath and awful majesty remained, but individual sinners could do more toward their own salvation. Second, in terms of personal faith, evangelicalism encouraged a warm-hearted, personal piety based on a simple acceptance of the Bible as God's perfect Word. Finally, logistically, evangelicals looked to revivalism as their chief engine for winning the unconverted to faith and renewing the flagging spirits of the faithful. Antebellum evangelicals were, thus, religious activists immersed in the democratic temper of their age. Although not always listed as a key attribute of evangelicalism, most evangelical Protestants displayed a sharp antipathy to Catholicism to the extent that Wolffe concludes that, "anti-Catholicism was very deeply rooted in evangelical identity and ideology. It was not a mere negative prejudice but an impulse at the heart of the movement's spiritual aspirations and religious activity."
Filling in the details of this broadly drawn definition leads one into all manner of difficulties, because it was in the details, the implications, and the nuances that American evangelicals differed from each other—sometimes bitterly. There were three large camps or ways of filling in those details, which we might typify as being respectively orthodox, radical, and black evangelicalism. Princeton was a stalwart member of evangelicalism's orthodox wing, which, according to Johnson, accounted for roughly one-fifth of all antebellum evangelicals and included Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Low Church Episcopalians, and English-speaking Reformed groups. Orthodox evangelicals tended to be middle and upper class people socially, normally residing in towns and cities; their locus of economic and political power was in the Northeast. They exercised considerable social influence and often sought to extend their conception of religious and social order into American society generally by using voluntary associations. Orthodox evangelicals held education in high regard and demanded a well-trained clergy. Johnson writes,
Worship was dignified, restrained, and controlled. By nineteenth-century standards, local formalist [orthodox] congregations were complex institutions with a host of organizations ranging from missionary societies to Sunday Schools and choirs, each emphasizing its own version of self-discipline and self-improvement.
Orthodox evangelicalism, in sum, was marked by an emphasis on revivalism, commitment to moral reform, reliance on interdenominational agencies, and a deep concern for missions.
Over the course of the antebellum era there was also a gradual blending and convergence of the radical and orthodox wings of evangelicalism so that by 1850 the orthodox had taken over many of the radicals' revivalist techniques and put them to use in ways acceptable to the middle class. The radicals, meanwhile, had become less radical and more concerned about such things as a learned clergy, education, decorous worship, theological complexities, grand edifices, and propriety in behavior and dress. If Cross is correct, the more extreme tendencies of the radical party to engage in a misguided, judgmental, and irresponsible "ultraism" contained the seeds of its own destruction and could not be sustained over the long run. Which is to say that by the time that the future members of the Laos Mission were coming of age, entering school, and attending seminary a milder revivalist evangelicalism had become standard fare for most of the nation's Protestants. The strength of that evangelicalism's impact on Princeton and the Old School was augmented by the fact that Common Sense Philosophy itself had a wide influence among evangelicals of many stripes and sizes, an influence unique among the English-speaking nations of the North Atlantic for its breadth and depth.
It is hardly startling, then, to insist that the Princeton professors and their entourage of students and sympathizers were evangelical; nearly all American Protestants of their day fit that description. The fact remains an important one, however, because it serves to distinguish the Princetonians from earlier forms of Reformed confessionalism and to highlight the importance of non-confessional influences on the Princeton Theology. In spite of the undeniable influence of Reformed confessionalism, that is, the Princeton Theology was an indigenous American theology, responsive to the cultural and religious forces of its national context. Princeton's views on revivalism, predestination, and voluntary agencies provide important examples.
Some twenty years ago, Hoffecker wrote a book that corrected, in his estimation, a long-standing misunderstanding of Princeton, namely that it was against revivalism and warm-hearted evangelical piety. He cites substantial evidence demonstrating that the key Princetonians held revivals in considerable esteem and emphasized the importance of deeply felt religious experiences to the Christian life, particularly in conversion. They discouraged only the emotional excesses of radical evangelical revivalism, fearing that such excesses were the result of manipulation by evangelists rather than the work of the Holy Spirit. Emotional revivalism, furthermore, often violated the Pauline injunction that all things be conducted in a decent, orderly manner. Although it appears at times that the evidence he cites disproves Hoffecker's argument almost as much as it proves it and that strong strains of rationality undeniably suffuse much of Princeton's literature, the scholarly consensus remains that in the main he is correct. The Princetonians did allow an important place for piety. One recalls, for example, Hodge's well-known little book, The Way of Life, published by the American Sunday School Union as an articulate rendering of a broadly evangelical piety. Princetonian sermons could often ring with the warm syllables of that piety, reminding us that colonial Presbyterians played a key role in the introduction and spread of revivalist practices and in the post-Revolutionary era continued to avail themselves of those methods. Still, even Princeton's sermons and pious tracts give vent to the subtle, orthodox counterpoint of reason and intellect; the heart was important to Princeton but it never dominated the mind. Sixteenth-century continental theology was at least as much home to the professors as was nineteenth-century American piety—and almost certainly more so. Thus, for example, Hodge structured his exposition of the The Way of Life according to a traditional rendering of the Reformed understanding of the "order of salvation," the ordo salutis—namely as call, justification and adoption, sanctification, and glorification.
Hodge's views on predestination, the grand dame of Reformed orthodox theology, highlight the intricate interplay of confessionalism and pietism contained in the Princeton literature. Kennedy argues that unlike his orthodox ancestors or even other Old School theologians, Hodge concerned himself more with the human role in salvation and with the kindly role of divine providence in human affairs than he did with the stern orthodox doctrines of predestination, election, and reprobation. He seemed inclined towards a greater role for natural theology; Kennedy labels Hodge's discussion of predestination in his Systematic Theology as being "commonplace" and lacking in details. He claims that the good doctor had little fondness for the harsher doctrines of his Reformed heritage. Kennedy writes, "[Hodge] lived in the great day of American revivalism and foreign missions, and he shared the concern that sinners come to salvation. His theology is anthropocentric and soteriocentric; his teaching on man and sin is mostly aimed at providing a context for salvation." Hodge, it should be added, further softened the grim image of Calvinism by arguing that the vast majority of humanity would face the last days and final judgment as saved Christians and that even the unbaptized will receive the rewards of eternal life if they die in their infancy. While later scholars frequently point to the transforming power Common Sense Philosophy had over Princeton's confessionalism, it is apparent that the more diffuse but still powerful influence of evangelicalism could also cut close to the core of that great tradition.
Briefly, it should be noted that the Princetonians and their larger Old School constituency fully involved themselves in the campaigns for social and religious control waged by orthodox evangelicalism's battery of antebellum voluntary societies. As we have seen, in 1837 the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. split over participation in the ecumenical voluntary agencies that had become the primary mission arm of orthodox evangelicalism. The reasons given then were largely theological, having to do with the New School's supposedly close association to New England's Arminian tendencies. The Old School, however, did not abstain from channeling evangelical activism through voluntary agencies; it simply wanted to control any agencies that had influence in the Presbyterian Church.
To one degree or another, Princeton shared thus in the piety, theology, and folkways of American evangelicalism, particularly of the orthodox strain. This evangelical mix was not without its subtleties as well, for sprinkled in amongst it all was a happy, zestful dash of romanticism, the aesthetic and intellectual movement that supposedly rejected reason for emotion and intuition and valued self-expression and discovery over traditional authority. Romantics majored in inspiration; they loved creativity. They rejected the Enlightenment and above all, again, they held no truck with reason—or so the scholars describe them.. All of this romantic enthusiasm and emotionalism does sound, as Hoveler suggests, like the radical evangelicals and their rejection of old systems of authority, activist enthusiasm for all manner of reforms, and emphasis on religious experience over reason. The general drift of scholarly treatment of Princeton and romanticism has been to emphasize the distance and differences between them as if the professors' apparently rigid orthodoxy was a medium poisonous to romanticism's free spirit. Moorhead's handling of J. A. Alexander, for example, contrasts the "early" Alexander—a creative, almost playful thinker of romantic inclinations before he became a full-time professor at Princeton Seminary—with the repressive scholasticism of his later years.. The actual situation was more complex, however, than Moorhead's simplistic scenario allows. In the vast, bubbling cauldron of antebellum religious thought, it was impossible to separate the various schools so neatly. Romanticism itself was diffuse and certain varieties could be as conservative as Princeton, if in a romantic rather than confessional manner. At the same time, the movement shared in other key elements of its day including most especially a great deal of influence from Common Sense Philosophy. It would have been more surprising than not if a hint of evangelical romanticism had failed to find its way into the Princeton Theology, which it did—in the way natural beauty could touch the Princetonians, in the way they sometimes discussed role of the heart in understanding God, in their concept of beauty, in the role they thought intuition played in perceiving heavenly themes, in their tendency to hold an optimistic appraisal of the mind's ability to grasp the divine, and in their trust of the common sense of the common people.
One of the other "markers" of nineteenth-century American evangelicalism was a profound emphasis on the authority of the Bible that sometimes verged on bibliolatry. It is so entirely obvious that the Princetonians cherished the Bible and gave it a central place in all of their works that the matter hardly needs elaboration; one example will suffice. In his 1851 inaugural discourse to the assembled Princeton Seminary community, William H. Green sounded the clarion call for defense of the Bible against the looming clouds of German scholarship's skeptical mistreatment of the Scriptures. Green, in the course of his lecture, described the Bible as being "the tower of our defense," and avowed that a thousand previous cases demonstrated how it is always finally, triumphantly, and fully vindicated. The Bible, he wrote, is "the only source of saving knowledge; the only guide to the favour of God, and holiness and heaven; which alone speaks of the atonement by the blood of the cross, and whose faithful proclamation is accompanied by the renewing energy of the Holy Ghost." Green avowed that, "We wish nothing to remain among our tenets which the word of God, honestly expounded, will not sanction." Some scholars have argued that such sentiments were still expressions of an "arid scholasticism" quite out of keeping with antebellum evangelicalism's view of the Scriptures, but Balmer's survey of contemporary conservative Protestant discussions of the meaning of the Bible suggests otherwise. He concludes that Princeton's doctrine of the Bible was neither "unique nor innovative" and that "a broad range of nineteenth-century theologians in many different denominational groupings did in fact share similar views on the subject."
As conservative, or orthodox evangelicals, Old School Presbyterians largely expressed their evangelicalism in muted tones. They were moderately revivalist instead of blatantly so. They favored a warm-hearted rather than hot-hearted piety. They spiced their faith with only a light sprinkling of romanticism in place of the shakers' full of romantic enthusiasm favored by the more radical evangelical denominations. By the time the Laos Mission was established in 1867, however, evangelicalism in the United States had found a common level, one that Old School Presbyterians shared in and felt comfortable with.
Finding discrepancies and illogical contradictions in the great theological house that Princeton built has become something of a cottage industry among scholars. Ahlstrom supposes that Princeton destroyed the dynamic vitality of its Reformed orthodox faith by subjecting it to the enervating, naive humanism of Common Sense thought. Sandeen agrees. Princeton's attempt to bend the mystical and the spiritual on the rack of "the methodology of Newton" produced, he claims, "a wooden, mechanical discipline as well as a rigorously logical one." Princeton dealt primarily with externals rather than the inner life. Loetscher, writing in the train of Hoffecker's primal dissent against the idea that Princeton rejected evangelical piety, still discerns a gap between Princeton's pietism and Common Sense rationalism. Although he assures us that the two did not contradict one other, he feels that Princetonians such as Alexander never found a way to blend the two into a workable synthesis. Meyer, taking a different tack across the same breeze, suggests that Alexander's Enlightenment orientation encouraged him to expect humans to be able to live moral lives while his Reformed heritage assured him it was impossible for them to do so. Alexander, he claims, failed to solve this dilemma. Taylor, coming in from still another angle, finds in Princeton's biblical scholarship an inherent tension between its commitment to "Reformed confessionalism" and its admiration of objective scientific and historical research.
Giving due weight to these and other inconsistencies, paradoxes, and contradictions within Princeton's great synthesis, one is still left feeling something akin to awe at the persistent way in which Princeton wove the strands of Reformed confessionalism, Common Sense Philosophy, evangelical piety, and that hint of romanticism into a single tapestry. Say what the critics will, it was a theological system that a not inconsequential number of nineteenth-century Americans accepted as their own, among them some of the nation's most well educated and theologically articulate professors, college presidents, preachers, and local lay leaders and members. Daniel McGilvary, as one minor example, chose Princeton Seminary because of the quality of its faculty. Standing within the culture and the ethos of its time and place, the Princeton synthesis made sense and had a great influence, particularly among more conservative and middle class evangelicals. It was orthodox and reasonable, reasonable and pious, and, finally, pious and orthodox. Wherever one turns in the literature of Princeton, one is struck by how all three strands weave in and around each other to form one Reformed, commonsensical, and evangelical theological system, so that, whatever its logical inconsistencies, a great number of nineteenth-century American Protestants found in it the terms and ideas they needed to express their own personal faith.
These six historical and theological contexts, then, comprise the setting within which the Laos Mission conducted its work. They include, historically, the events leading up to the founding of the mission itself, northern Thai history, and the history of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. The key components of the theological context are Reformed confessionalism, Common Sense Philosophy, and evangelicalism. The stage, in sum, is now well set, and it is time to introduce the actresses and actors, whose lives and thinking we will pursue throughout the rest of the course of this dissertation, namely the nine pioneer members of the Laos Mission.
|American Historical Review
Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review
Journal of American History
Journal of the Early Republic
Journal of Presbyterian History
Journal of Social History
North Carolina Presbyterian
North Carolina Presbyterian New Series
Presbyterian Quarterly and Princeton Review
Sixteenth Century Journal
Westminster Journal of Theology
Women's Work for Women
 For the history of early Catholic missions, see, Surachai Chumsirphan, "The Great Role of Jean-Louise Vey, Apostolic Vicar of Siam (1875-1909), in the Church History of Thailand During the Reformation Period of King Rama V, The Great (1868-1910), " (Ph.D. diss., Pontificate Universitatis Gregorianae, 1990), 69-96.
 Standard introductions to Protestant church and missionary history in Thailand include: McFarland, Historical Sketch; and Wells, History of Protestant Work. For the history of the London Missionary Society's brief efforts in Siam, see Kennon Breazeale, "English Missionaries Among the Thai," in Anuson Walter Vella, ed. Ronald D. Renard (Honolulu: University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1986), 208-28.
 For a contemporary description of the tensions between Catholic and Protestant missionaries, see John Bowring, The Kingdom and People of Siam. vol. 1 (1857; reprint, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1977), 335.
 See Breazeale, "English Missionaries," 220; Buell to Lowrie, 10 September 1840 and 5 December 1840, v. 1, Records of the Board of Foreign Missions, Presbyterian Church USA, microfilm copy at the Payap University Archives (Here after cited as BFM); and House to Lowrie, 6 October 1854, v. 2, BFM.
 The northern Thai patron class was known by the general term of chao. The chief ruler of each of the northern states was termed chao luang (primary lord or, possibly, lord of the capitol) or chao muang (lord of the city and state). These terms are frequently translated as "prince," in acknowledgment of the dependency status of the northern states.
 Whipple to Bradley, 2 July 1861, Papers of Dan Beach Bradley, at the Oberlin College Archives, microfilm copy at the Payap College Archives; and McGilvary to Executive Committee, 10 February 1864, v. 2, BFM. For Bradley's contacts with the northern princes, see the Journal of Dan Beach Bradley, at the Oberlin College Archives, microfilm copy at the Payap College Archives, 20 October 1859, 21 October 1859, and 4 December 1859. For his visits to Phet Buri, see Bradley Journal, 27 November 1859; 29 November 1859; and 30 November 1859; and Bradley to Whipple, 6 December 1859, Records of the American Missionary Association, at the Amistad Research Center, Dillard University, New Orleans, USA, microfilm copy at the Payap University Archives.
 McGilvary, Half Century, 63-4; McGilvary, "Chieng Mai Trip," North Carolina Presbyterian (hereafter cited as NCP) 9 (24 October 1866): 1; McGilvary, "Chieng Mai Trip," NCP 9 (31 October 1866): 1; McGilvary to Executive Committee, 10 February 1864, v. 2, BFM; and McGilvary to Lowrie, 13 February 1864, v. 2, BFM.
 Bradley's journal does not entirely confirm this "official" chronology taken from McGilvary's own writings. Bradley makes no mention of going to visit Chao Kawilorot on Wednesday, 29 August 1866, which he almost certainly would have done. He also recorded two visits to the American Consul, Mr. Hood, one on August 30th and the second on the 31st. On both occasions, Hood flew into a great rage over petty matters directly related to McGilvary's request. He refused to give assistance to McGilvary both times. Journal of Dan Beach Bradley, 29-31 August 1866. Bradley's journal does not reveal how the matter was resolved, but it does help explain why McGilvary felt that securing permission from all parties involved was due to the providential intervention of God.
 Ratanaphorn Sethakul, "Political, Social, and Economic Changes in the Northern States of Thailand Resulting from the Chiang Mai Treaties of 1874 and 1883" (Ph.D. diss. Northern Illinois University, 1989), 12-3; and, McGilvary, "The New Mission among the Laos," excerpts of a letter, FM 25 (January 1867): 215-16.
 Ratanaphorn, "Chiang Mai Treaties," 24; Sarasawadee, Lan Na History, 53ff.; and Rujaya Abhakorn, "Changes in the Administrative System of Northern Siam, 1884-1933," in Changes in Northern Thailand and the Shan States 1886-1940, ed. Prakai Nontawasee (Singapore: Southeast Asian Studies Program, 1988), 66-7.
 See Leonard J. Trinterud, The Forming of an American Tradition: A Re-examination of Colonial Presbyterianism (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1949), 15. The term "Scotch-Irish" refers to the Ulster Scots.
 Until recently Trinterud, American Tradition, 38ff. has been the standard treatment of these events. Over the last twenty years, however, revisionist historians have questioned many aspects of his interpretation. See Elizabeth A. Ingersoll, "Francis Alison: American 'Philosophe,' 1705-1779" (Ph.D. diss., University of Delaware, 1974), Elizabeth I. Nybakken, "New Light on the Old Side: Irish Influences on Colonial Presbyterianism," Journal of American History (Hereafter cited as JAH) 68, 4 (March 1982): 813-32; Marilyn J. Westerkamp, Triumph of the Laity: Scots-Irish Piety and the Great Awakening, 1625-1760 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); and Janet Fishburn, "Gilbert Tennent, Established 'Dissenter'" CH 63, 1 (March 1994): 31-49. See also Milton J. Coalter, Gilbert Tennent, Son of Thunder: A Case Study of Continental Pietism's Impact on the First Great Awakening in the Middle Colonies (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986) and Bryan F. Le Beau, Jonathan Dickinson and the Formative Years of American Presbyterianism (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1997), 106.
 Randall Balmer, and John R. Fitzmier, The Presbyterians (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1993), 33. For a brief biography of Witherspoon, see Martha Lou Lemmon Stohlman, John Witherspoon: Parson, Politician, Patriot (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976).
 Finke and Stark point out that of the three major churches in the colonial era—Congregational, Presbyterian, and Anglican—only the Presbyterians continued to grow significantly in the post-Revolutionary era, actually keeping pace with population growth although not with the overall increase in church membership. In the period 1776-1850, Presbyterian membership dwindled from 19% to 11.6% of total American church membership. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 55, 56.
 See Lefferts A. Loetscher, A Brief History of the Presbyterians. 4th ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978), 92ff; and Raleigh Don Scovel, "Orthodoxy in Princeton: A Social and Intellectual History of Princeton Theological Seminary, 1812-1860" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1970), 216ff.
 Earl R. MacCormac, "The Transition from Voluntary Missionary Society to the Church as a Missionary Organization among the American Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and Methodists" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1961), 172ff; Earl R. MacCormac, "Mission and the Presbyterian Schism of 1837," CH 32 (March 1963): 32-45; and Marjorie Barnhart, "From Elisha Swift to Walter Lowrie: The Background of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions," Journal of Presbyterian History (Hereafter cited as JPH) 65 (Summer 1987): 85-96.
 For the history of the theological controversy that led to the reorganization of Princeton Seminary, see Bradley J. Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and Moderates (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
 W. J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 2. Compare McCoy and Baker's comments on the origins of Reformed federalism. Charles S. McCoy and J. Wayne Baker, Fountainhead of Federalism: Heinrich Bullinger and the Covenantal Tradition (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991), 11.
See Raleigh Don Scovel, "Orthodoxy in Princeton: A Social and Intellectual History of Princeton Theological Seminary, 1812-1860" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1970), 58-9; and Noll, "Princeton Theology," 18-24.
 Alister E. McGrath, Reformed Thought: An Introduction (2d ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 8-9. See also Alister E. McGrath, A Life of John Calvin: A Study in the Shaping of Western Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 202ff; and McCoy and Baker, Fountainhead of Federalism, 17. Princeton itself was aware of the problems involved in the term "Calvinism." Lyman Atwater once noted that Charles Hodge seldom used the term. Atwater himself preferred the term "catholic Calvinism" as a way to show that the tradition drew on many more theological sources than just Calvin. See Lyman Atwater, "Calvinism in Doctrine and Life," PQPR 4, 1 (January 1875): 73-106. The question of labels for "Calvinism" is complicated by the fact that the terms "scholasticism" and "orthodoxy" are tainted with a sense of irrelevance, rationalism, and even lifelessness. The term "Reformed confessionalism" seems the most value-free one available and is generally used in this dissertation. See, Peter J. Wallace, "The Foundations of Reformed Biblical Theology: The Development of Old Testament Theology at Old Princeton, 1812-1932" (On-line article at: http://www.nd.edu/~pwallace); and Mark A. Noll, "The Princeton Theology."
 Donnelly, John Patrick. "Italian Influences on the Development of Calvinist Scholasticism," Sixteenth Century Journal (Hereafter cited as SCJ 7), 1 (April 1976): 101. See also Christopher J. Burchill, "Girolamo Zanchi: Portrait of A Reformed Theologian and His Work," SCJ 15, 2 (1984): 186.
 Concerning Reformed and Puritan views on the primacy of reasonable religion, see John von Rohr, The Covenant of Grace in Puritan Thought (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986), 68-71; McGrath, Reformation Thought, 120; and Martin I. Klauber, "Reason, Revelation, and Cartesianism: Louis Tronchin and Enlightened Orthodoxy in Late Seventeenth-Century Geneva" CH 59, 3 (September 1990): 338.
 See Ian Breward, "Introduction," in The Work of William Perkins, ed. Ian Breward (Appleford, Abingdon, Berkshire, England: Sutton Courtenay Press, 1970), 19; Donnelly, "Italian Influences," 82-3; David A. Weir, The Origins of the Federal Theology in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), 69-70; and Rogers and McKim, Authority and Interpretation, 185-86.
 William C. Placher, A History of Christian Theology: An Introduction (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983), 226-27. These five points are often summarized with the mnemonic, TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints. See McGrath, Calvin, 217.
 Breward, Perkins, 29; and von Rohr, The Covenant of Grace in Puritan Thought, 88. For an excellent description of the sources and impact of Scottish evangelical piety on American Presbyterianism, see Leigh Eric Schmidt, Holy Fairs: Scottish Communions and American Revivals in the Early Modern Period (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989).
 The following discussion of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume is based upon Diogenes Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985), 171ff; and Frank Thilly and Ledger Wood, A History of Philosophy, 3d ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1957), 302ff. See also W. Andrew Hoffecker and Gary Scott Smith, eds., Building a Christian World View, vol. 1, God, Man, and Knowledge (Philipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1986). For the impact of scientific thought directly on colonial American philosophy, see Elizabeth Flower and Murray G. Murphey, A History of Philosophy in America, vol. I (New York: Capricorn Books, 1977), 61ff.
 Daniel Walker Howe, The Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805-1861 (Middle-town, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1988), 28-9. See also Flower and Murphey, Philosophy in America, 243-44.
 Cumins attributes Reid's mind-body dualism to the influence of Descartes and notes the important impact this division had on his epistemology. Reid, he contends, argued that humans obtain theirknowledge in two distinct ways, physically through perception and mentally through consciousness. Philip D. Cumins, "Reid's Realism" Journal of the History of Philosophy 12, 3 (July 1974): 321-22.
 Reid's attack on the "theory of ideas" was more sophisticated and complex than this brief summary suggests. Beanblossom has summarized a number of Reid's objections to that theory in four key points: First, Reid claimed that he could think thoughts that were unlike the philosophical meaning of "ideas". Second, the theory claims we can only have ideas of things that exist; but according to commonsense thinking that is not true. Third, the theory of ideas leads only to skepticism concerning human perception and memory. Fourth, Reid claims he can account for perception and mistakes in memory without having recourse to the theory of ideas. Ronald E. Beanblossom, "Introduction," in Thomas Reid's Inquiry and Essays, ed. Ronald E. Beanblossom and Keith Lehrer (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1983), xix.
 Bozeman, Protestants in an Age of Science, 21. For a concise description of the Baconian inductive method by a member of the "Princeton circle," see Samuel Tyler, "The Baconian Philosophy," Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review (Hereafter cited as BRPR) 12, 3 (July 1840): 362-63; and Samuel Tyler, "Baconian Philosophy," BRPR 15, 4 (October 1843): 479-506.
 J. David Hoveler, Jr, James McCosh and the Scottish Intellectual Tradition: From Glasgow to Princeton (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 4; and Herbert Hovenkamp, Science and Religion in America, 1800-1860 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978), 10.
 See Tyler, "The Baconian Philosophy"; Tyler, "Baconian Philosophy"; Samuel Tyler, "Psychology," BRPR 15, 2 (April 1843): 227-50; and Samuel Tyler, "Sir William Hamilton and his Philosophy," BRPR 27, 4 (October 1855): 553-600.
 Sydney E. Ahlstrom, "The Scottish Philosophy and American Theology" CH 24(1955): 257-72. For a detailed theological explication of that relationship, see James L. McAllister, Jr., "The Nature of Religious Knowledge in the Thought of Charles Hodge" (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1957); and, more recently, Loetscher, Facing the Enlightenment. The Scottish link was largely ignored by early studies of Princeton in particular and American Calvinism generally. See especially, William Adams Brown, "Changes in the Theology of American Presbyterians," American Journal of Theology 10, 3 (July 1906): 387-411; William Adams Brown, "The Old Theology and the New," Harvard Theological Review 4, 1 (January 1911): 1-24; and Ralph John Danhof, Charles Hodge as a Dogmatician (Goes, Netherlands: Oosterbaan & Le Cointre, 1929).
 John Wolffe, "Anti-Catholicism and Evangelical Identity in Britain and the United States, 1830-1860," in Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1900, ed. Mark A. Noll, David W. Bebbington, and George A. Rawlyk (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 184.
 Taken from Curtis D. Johnson, Evangelicals and the Road to Civil War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1993), 7-8. Johnson uses the terms "formalist," "anti-formalist," and "African-American." He notes that this is an idealized classification, the boundaries between classes being often unclear and showing considerable overlap.
 Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-1850 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1950), 355-56.
 Mark A. Noll, "Common Sense Traditions and American Evangelical Thought," American Quarterly (Hereafter cited as AQ) 37 (Summer 1985): 217, 226; and Michael Gauvreau, "The Empire of Evangelicalism: Varieties of Common Sense in Scotland, Canada, and the United States," in Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1900, ed. Mark A. Noll, David W. Bebbington, and George A. Rawlyk (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 236. Hirrel argues that their shared commitment to common sense provided an important bridge specifically between New School and Old School Presbyterians and concludes, "New School and Old School Calvinists had more in common than they may have realized." Leo P. Hirrel, Children of Wrath: New School Calvinism and Antebellum Reform (Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press, 1998), 44.
 Andrew W. Hoffecker, Piety and the Princeton Theologians: Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, and Benjamin Warfield (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1981), 20-4, 72.
 See, as one example, James W. Alexander, Discourses on Common Topics of Christian Faith and Practice, 2nd. ed. (New York: Scribner, 1858), esp. 245-61, "The Inwardness of True Religion," a sermon delivered 9 April 1854. See von Rohr, Covenant of Grace, 87.
 See The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1967) s. v. "Romanticism"; The Dictionary of Philosophy, ed. Dagobert D. Runes (New York: Philosophical Library, n.d.), s. v. "Romanticism"; and esp. Terry Tastard, "Theology and Spirituality in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries," in Companion Encyclopedia of Theology, ed. Peter Byrne and Leslie Houlden, (London: Routledge, 1995), 597. For a fuller description of romanticism in the American context, see Walter H. Conser, Jr. God and the Natural World: Religion and Science in Antebellum America (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993), 25ff; and Merle Curti, Human Nature in American Thought (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1980), 147-85.
 James H. Moorhead, "Joseph Addison Alexander: Common Sense, Romanticism and Biblical Criticism at Princeton," JPH 53, 1 (Spring 1975): 51-65. See also, James Hastings Nichols' chapter on Hodge, in Romanticism in American Theology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961).
 See Lawrence Buell, New England Literary Culture: From Revolution Through Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 44; Lawrence Buell, Literary Transcendentalism: Style and Vision in the American Renaissance (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1973), 64-5; and Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 345.
 Hoffecker, Piety and the Princeton Theologians, 16-7; and Kennedy, "Hodge's Doctrines of Sin and Particular Grace," 165ff. For a fascinating and ingenious synthesis of Princeton rationality and the romantic spirit see Samuel Tyler, "Cosmos, by A. Von Humboldt," BRPR 24, 3 (July 1852): 382-97. Tyler argues that God has created the world to be both beautiful and useful so that it can sustain and speak to the whole of human nature. The unspoken message to the Princeton faithful was that within the compass of the one divine Creation a person can be both a rational and a romantic inductive, orthodox Baconian evangelical.
 William Henry Green, "Inaugural Discourse," in Discourses at the Inauguration of the Rev. William Henry Green as Professor of Biblical and Oriental Literature in The Theological Seminary at Princeton, N.J. (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, Printer, 1851), 41, 42.
 Ahlstrom, "Scottish Philosophy," 268-69; Ernest R. Sandeen, "The Princeton Theology: One Source of Biblical Literalism in American Protestantism." CH 31 (September 1962): 310; and Loetscher, Facing the Enlightenment, 68, 98, 168-69.
 D. H. Meyer, The Instructed Conscience: The Shaping of the American National Ethic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1972), 55-6; and Marion Ann Taylor, The Old Testament in the Old Princeton School (1812-1929) (San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1992), 9, 45, 107, 142-44.
|Table of Contents||Abstract||Illust. & Tables||Introduction||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6||Conclusion||Appendices||Bibliography|