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Society for Ethical Culture

(166 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] was founded in New York in 1876 by F. Adler. Raised a Reform Jew (Reform Judaism), Adler came to reject traditional notions of monotheism, though he continued to look at the Hebrew Scriptures and the person of Jesus for inspiration. Adhering to the slogan, “deed not creed,” Adler encouraged the efforts of individuals rather than formal institutions and ritualized traditions. The Society for Ethical Culture with its regular Sunday services and Adler’s humanistic addresses became th…

Spencer, Herbert

(165 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Apr 27, 1820, Derby, England – Dec 8, 1903, Brighton, England), social scientist and popular writer, worked as a railway engineer and political journalist. His System of Synthetic Philosophy (1862–1896) established his reputation as a comprehensive thinker about society, education, ethics, and politics. To each of these domains he applied general evolutionary ideas. Evolution also explained the history of religions, which mirrored the social systems in which they existed, reinforced the practices of existin…

North America, Theology in

(2,153 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] Nowhere has America’s status as an intellectual colony of Europe been more evident than in its formal Christian theology. With only a few exceptions, Roman Catholic theologians in America have been mostly content to follow the guidance of Europeans. American promotion of Neo-Thomism from roughly 1870 to 1960 is the most important example of that dependence. Much the same situation has prevailed among the Orthodox, with the major difference that European influence has taken the sha…

Plymouth Colony

(158 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] was a settlement of English Puritans in the southeast corner of Massachusetts. Under the leadership of pastor J. Robinson, English separates migrated first in 1603 from Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, to Holland. Despite freedom found there, they soon became worried about the education of their children. In September 1620, 41 settlers boarded the ship Mayflower, along with 61 others, for Virginia. Blown off course to the north, they landed on Cape Cod in November. Before disembarking, t…

Consultation on Church Union

(189 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] The Consultation on Church Union emerged from a proposal in December 1960 by the American Presbyterian Eugene Carson Blake for an organic union of churches “truly catholic, truly evangelical, and truly reformed.” The Consultation was established in 1962 by representatives of four mainline Protestant denominations. After mergers and the addition of new bodies, nine churches have continued as full members: African Methodist Episcopal Church, Afric…

Rockefeller, John Davison Sr.

(128 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Jul 8, 1839, Richford, NY – May 23, 1937, Ormond Beach, FL), business magnate and philanthropist, established himself by the 1870s as a leader for the new oil industry. His Standard Oil Company became the source of great personal wealth. Through his mother, Eliza Davison, Rockefeller received a strong Baptist upbringing. Throughout his life he contributed regularly to many churches and voluntary societies. Although leaders of the Social Gospel like W. Gladden urged church groups …

Jefferson, Thomas

(199 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Apr 13, 1743, Albemarle County, VA – Jul 4, 1826, Monticello, VA), was the third president of the United States and played an important role in American religious history. He was the author of Virginia's landmark “Statute for Freedom of Religion” of 1786, which set the pattern that the whole United States would follow in guaranteeing nearly complete religious liberty. Jefferson's beliefs became the subject of political controversy when his opponents in the presidential campaign o…

Davies, Robertson

(151 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Aug 28, 1913, Thamesville, Ontario – Feb 12, 1995, Orangeville, Ontario), Canada's leading 20th-century novelist. In his works Davies regularly employed religious symbols, disputes, traditions, and hagiography. After working in the theater and as an editor of the Examiner, published in Peterborough, ¶ Ontario, he became Master of Massey College, University of Toronto, in 1963, where he served until retirement. Davies's novels included three trilogies: …

Union Theological Seminary

(153 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (UTS). America’s first interdenominational theological seminary was founded in 1836 by “New School” Presbyterians. From 1870 to 1892 it served the Northern Presbyterian Church, but became independent once again when C.A. Briggs was expelled from the denomination for promoting higher critical views of Scripture. Notable faculty in the 19th century included the theologian Henry Boynton Smith and P. Schaff. Ties with Germany remained strong into the 20th century, especially with the …

Wieman, Henry Nelson

(111 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Aug 19, 1884, Rich Hill, MO – Jun 19, 1975, Grinell, IA), an early process theologian (Process theology) in liberal American Protestantism. After training for the Presbyterian ministry and study in Germany, Wieman was greatly influenced by W.E. Hocking and Ralph Barton Perry at Harvard where he received his Ph.D. in 1917. In teaching at Occidental College and at the University of Chicago, Wieman advocated a naturalistic theism as, for example, in his books The Wrestle of Religion with Truth (1927) and The Source of Human Good (1946), also opposing theological pers…

Douglass, Frederick

(171 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (c. 1818, Talbot County, MD – Feb 20, 1895, Washington DC), African-American abolitionist (Slavery), was born Frederick Bailey of a slave mother and an unknown white father. After a childhood of cruel neglect, he was taken to Baltimore, where he learned to read and write. On Sep 2, 1838 he escaped from slavery, soon changed his name to Dou…

Prohibition, Alcohol

(270 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] Prohibition, Alcohol, a movement in the United States to ban alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine, began in the early 19th century with efforts at temperance reform associated with the revivals of the Second Great Awakening (Revival/Revival movements: II). Neal Dow, who spearheaded the drive for the first state prohibition law (Maine, 1846), called temperance (Asceticism) “Christ’s work,” which “every true soldier of the Cross” should fight. In the industrial era of the la…

Worthington, John

(108 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Feb, 1617, Manchester – buried Nov 30, 1671, Hackney), earned his M.A. from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1632. From 1650 to 1660 he served as master of Jesus College, Cambridge, but then was replaced at the Restoration of the English monarchy. His liberal Christian spirit led him to stress the experience of practical godliness. He edited the works of the leading Cambridge Platonist, J. Mede, provided the first widely used English translation of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ, and published several books, including The Great Duty of Self-resignation to …

Coffin, Henry Sloane

(178 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Jan 5, 1877, New York – Nov 25, 1954, Lakeville, CT) was a leading Protestant educator and ecumenicist in the USA during the first half of the 20th century. After an education at Yale, Edinburgh, Marburg, and at Union Theological Seminary (NY), Coffin became a Presbyterian minister in New York. Soon he added duties as a professor at Union, where he became the president in 1926 (until 1945). Coffin was an early advocate of the Social Gospe…

Otterbein, Philipp Wilhelm

(170 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] ( Jun 2, 1726, Dillenburg, Prussia – Nov 17, 1813, Baltimore, MD), German Reformed minister who became a founder of the United Brethren in Christ. Otterbein went to the United States in 1752 at the invitation of the German Reformed Pietist, Michael Schlatter (1718–1790). Otterbein had been educated in Calvinist and Pietist teachings at the Reformed University of Herborn (Reformed Colleges in Germany). In America, Otterbein energetically encouraged prayer meetings, recruited lay le…

Orange Order

(268 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] The Orange Order is a Protestant fraternal organization founded in 1795 in the north of Ireland and dedicated to the victory of the English Protestant king William (from Orange in Holland) over the ¶ Roman Catholic James I at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 (Ireland: II). The order arose at a time of particular tension in County Armagh when both Catholic agitation and Enlightenment thinking threatened the social and political dominance of Protestantism. It developed through the construction of lodges, the for…

Robinson, Edward

(180 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Apr 10, 1794, Southington, CT – Jan 27, 1863, New York City), was one of the most influential American biblical scholars of his era. After graduating from Hamilton College in 1816 Robinson became instructor of Hebrew at Andover Seminary from 1823 to 1826, where he was profoundly influenced by Moses Stuart’s appropriation of German philology and criticism. Robinson studied in Germany from 1826 to 1830 and then became professor of biblical literature at Andover where, in 1831, he f…

Dorsey, Thomas Andrew

(168 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Jul 1, 1899, Villa Rica, GA – Jan 23, 1993, Chicago, IL) was the pioneer of African-American “gospel” music, raised by a Baptist minister father and a piano-playing mother. He began playing the blues in Atlanta in 1910 and continued after moving to Chicago in 1916. In the early 1920s he experienced a religious conversion, after which he turned to writing gospel songs, but while retaining features of the Blues. Traditionalists resisted this combination, and Dorsey was forced to peddle his own music. Soon his ¶ songs became popular. Memorable titles include “Preciou…

Congregational Christian Churches

(521 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] When Congregationalists merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form a new denomination, the United Church of Christ, in 1957, they were the major representatives in the USA of historic Anglo-American Congregationalism. These churches were descendents of separatist movements that had begun among English Protestants during the 2nd half of the 16th century. A pamphlet published in 1582 by R. Browne, A Treatise of Reformation without Tarrying for Any, proclaimed principles that would define the movement: Christ is the sole head of th…

Tindley, Charles Albert

(176 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] ( Jul 7, 1856, Berlin, MD – Jul 29, 1933, Philadelphia, PA), prominent preacher and author of gospel hymns (Gospel music), was born to former slave parents and began early to prepare for the Methodist ministry. In 1900 he became the pastor of Bainbridge Street Methodist Church in Philadelphia, which soon became a center of the city’s black religious life. In 1901 Tindley began publishing “Songs of Paradise,” gospel hymns marked by clear melodies, simply harmony, and the chorus-ref…
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