Lyman Beecher's (1775--1863) "Theological Lecture Notes, Volume I", edited with introduction and critical notes

Roy Carl Backus, Marquette University


The Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher has been studied as a revivalist, an anti-Catholic and anti-Unitarian polemist, a popular spokesman for New Haven Theology, a leader in the Protestant volunteer society movement, a representative of the establishment in the student anti-slavery defection from Lane Seminary of 1833, and a famous father. Until now, his role as a professor of theology and the actual content of his teaching has remained unaddressed. This dissertation presents Dr. Beecher's previously unpublished Theological Lecture Notes, Volume I in an edited, readable, and critical edition. Chapter One identifies Dr. Beecher's theological formation and place in American Protestantism. It addresses the aim, structure, order and distinguishing characteristics of the Lecture Notes and identifies several previously unidentified issues within Beecher's theological system. These issues include the following: Beecher's knowledge of the Scottish Common Sense philosophy, the centrality of the sovereignty of God, the order of salvation in his theological process, the difference between Nathaniel Taylor's and Beecher's convictions on the will, the presence of additional Hopkinsian elements in Beecher's theology, and some interesting details of Beecher's world view. Chapter One explains the process, principles and apparatus of the transcription of the Lecture Notes . In addition, particular attention is given to the role of Scottish Common Sense Realism, New Haven Theology, revivalism, faculty psychology, and the order of salvation in Beecher's thought in the Lecture Notes . Chapter Two contains the transcription of Volume I with critical notes. Attention is given to the annotation of quotations, bibliographical references, and textual difficulties. Beecher's lecture topics include Cause and Effect; The Doctrine of Real Existence; Mental Philosophy; The Being and Attributes of God; How All Minds are Alike and Different; The Moral Attributes of God; The Elementary Powers and Laws of Mental Action Associated with Accountability and Moral Government; Free Agency and Accountability; The Will; Reason, Reasoning and Reasonable; The Doctrine of Election; The Moral Government of God; The Origin, Nature, Extent, and Evidence of Man's Depravity, Regeneration; Experimental Evidences for the Existence of God; Justification by Faith; Original Sin, The Fall and Its Consequences; Do Saints Ever Fall From Grace? and The Sovereignty of God. There are three appendixes. Appendix One is a bibliographical essay which identifies authors and topics mentioned in Beecher's course description and manuscript. These are cross referenced with the texts in the Lane Seminary Library Catalog. Appendix Two is a comprehensive outline of the Theological Lecture Notes, Volume I . Appendix Three contains representative photographic copies of the manuscript to demonstrate some of the issues and challenges in this project.

Recommended Citation

Backus, Roy Carl, "Lyman Beecher's (1775--1863) "Theological Lecture Notes, Volume I", edited with introduction and critical notes" (1999). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9961514.