Cotton Mather: theological conviction and change

Meyer, Scott James (2021) Cotton Mather: theological conviction and change. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the ministry and work of eminent puritan Cotton Mather as it adapts, adjusts and reasserts itself during the times of upheaval, declension and transition in which he lived. As the puritan ideal changed going into the eighteenth century, I ask the question “how did Mather’s work and ministry morph, change and adapt to this shift?” By analyzing many of his relevant writings and sermons in depth I attempt to grasp the nature and direction in which his work morphed. I identify six overlapping areas of mutation that help to answer this question. His refined and ultimately innovative version of New England puritanism reflected changes in his views of ecclesiology, ecumenicism, piety, covenant theology, political philosophy (what Mather called “eleutherianism”) and Christian cosmopolitanism. When taken together, these areas become a lens by which to view the changing mosaic of Mather’s beliefs. Mather is recast as a puritan minister whose thought broadened and took energetic turns in unexpected ways at the same time that puritanism itself was contracting. This thesis brings a congruence to Mather’s changes and will provide a new coherence for his theology and ministry as a whole. I find that Mather moved away from his early commitment to New England exceptionalism and closer towards a new expression of a continuing protestant reformation in pursuit of Christ’s return to earth. This expression of hopeful change is where we find a Matherian worldview previously unexamined. We will see Cotton Mather incorporate many of the changes in his own life and ministry into an innovative theology of covenantal hope and assurance that becomes a forward-thinking and influential vision for the Christian church in New England and worldwide.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cotton Mather, Puritans, New England, Theology, Covenant, Salem.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Spurlock, Dr. Scott
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Scott James Meyer
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82179
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 10:57
Last Modified: 12 May 2021 11:02
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82179
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82179

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