The background and development of 'Evangelical Catholicism' and its expression in the ministry of William Augustus Muhlenberg
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William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877) is considered by many historians of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America to have been its most significant leader of the nineteenth century. During the course of his ministry Muhlenberg expressed an understanding of the Christian faith which he called 'Evangelical Catholicism', the many expressions of which provided the basis for reforms and innovations affecting every aspect of the Church's life. Although many studies have been made of the many aspects of Muhlenberg's evangelical Catholicism they have overlooked a valuable resource in the background and development of this ideal. This research traces the origins of Muhlenberg's evangelical Catholicism to this primary source by examining the various expressions of Muhlenberg's ideal in the areas of Christian ethics, Church History, Christian Worship, Church Unity and Biblical Studies. The result of this study has been the discovery of the origins of Muhlenberg's ideal in the canonically prescribed theological curriculum known as the 'Course of Ecclesiastical Studies of 1804', or more commonly, the 'Bishops' List'. The method involved in tracing the background and development of evangelical Catholicism has been to examine Muhlenberg's innovations and reforms in the light of the works he read in preparation for ordination as well as to consider the influence upon him of contemporary movements in nineteenth, century Anglicanism. This research shows that evangelical Catholicism is expressed by Muhlenberg as a synthesis of the authors included within the highly eclectic, comprehensive, and often contradictory, 'Bishops' List', thus identifying the primary sources of Muhlenberg's concept of evangelical Catholicism and establishing a valuable means for the examination of the ideas which influenced William Augustus Muhlenberg and have had an enduring effect upon the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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