Religion and Violence in Early American Methodism
Taking the Kingdom by Force
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Early American Methodists commonly described their religious lives as great wars with sin and claimed they wrestled with God and Satan who assaulted them in terrible ways. Carefully examining a range of sources, including sermons, letters, autobiographies, journals, and hymns, Jeffrey Williams explores this violent aspect of American religious life and thought. Williams exposes Methodism's insistence that warfare was an inevitable part of Christian life and necessary for any person who sought God's redemption. He reveals a complex relationship between religion and violence, showing how violent expression helped to provide context and meaning to Methodist thought and practice, even as Methodist religious life was shaped by both peaceful and violent social action.
"Engages a different literature on spirituality, namely its violent dimensions ... extraordinarily well written, immensely important, and groundbreaking work." Russell E. Richey, Candler School of Theology, Emory University