Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Patrick W. Carey

Second Advisor

Ronald J. Feenstra

Third Advisor

William J. Kelly

Fourth Advisor

Oliver K. Olson

Fifth Advisor

Paul Misner


The Protestant doctrine of the pastoral ministry experienced a dramatic and multi-faceted transformation in antebellum American due to the powerful influence of American republicanism. Sidney Mead has described the transformation of the function of the ministry. He writes about the inevitable transition from a sacramental model of ministry to an evangelistic model especially suited to the spirit of American republicanism. Nathan Hatch has described the transformation of the authority of the ministry. He explains how republicanism introduced a new spirit of egalitarianism that led to an erosion of respect for traditional authority. In previous generations the pastoral office was understood to possess divine authority to minister. In nineteenth-century America, however, the pastor was given authority to minister by the consent of the people.

The transformation of the function and authority of the pastor was accompanied by a transformation in the public perception of the necessity of the pastoral office. By the middle of the nineteenth-century, the pastorate was no longer viewed as a necessary position in God's economy of redemption. Most people believed that they could experience God's grace in a sufficient manner outside of the regular ministry of a local congregation.

This multi-faceted transformation process did not take place without resistance. While the majority of American Protestants followed a trend towards ecclesiastical republicanism, there were Protestants who resisted it. They believed it was possible to have a sacramental model of ministry, similar to that in Europe and consistent with that of the Reformers, within the context of American republicanism.



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