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Process and Providence
The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845-1929
PAPERBACK; Published: 11/30/2013
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6898-5
408 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9

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Explores how influential conservative theologians in the nineteenth century dealt with the problem of evolution

Charles Hodge, James McCosh, B. B. Warfield -- these leading professors at Princeton College and Seminary in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are famous for their orthodox Protestant positions on the doctrine of evolution. In this book Bradley Gundlach explores the surprisingly positive embrace of developmental views by the whole community of thinkers at old Princeton, showing how they embraced the development not only of the cosmos and life-forms but also of Scripture and the history of doctrine, even as they defended their historic Christian creed.

Decrying an intellectual world gone "evolution-mad," the old Princetonians nevertheless welcomed evolution "properly limited and explained." Rejecting historicism and Darwinism, they affirmed developmentalism and certain non- Darwinian evolutionary theories, finding process over time through the agency of second causes -- God's providential rule in the world -- both enlightening and polemically useful. They also took care to identify the pernicious causes and effects of antisupernatural evolutionisms. By the 1920s their nuanced distinctions, together with their advocacy of both biblical inerrancy and modern science, were overwhelmed by the brewing fundamentalist controversy.

From the first American review of the pre-Darwinian Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation to the Scopes Trial and the forced reorganization of Princeton Seminary in 1929, Process and Providence reliably portrays the preeminent conservative Protestants in America as they defined, contested, and answered -- precisely and incisively -- the many facets of the evolution question.
REVIEWS
Mark A. Noll
-- University of Notre Dame
"Bradley Gundlach has written the best kind of history -- deeply researched, beautifully written, carefully thought through. He rehearses how scholars at Princeton Seminary and Princeton University dealt with the evolution question(s) -- with balance, learning, nuance, perception, and theological depth -- the very qualities that mark this book. One can only hope that this fine historical study will encourage those in our day who continue to wrestle with the evolution question(s)."
David Livingstone
-- Queen's University Belfast
"In a pioneering analysis Gundlach locates the story of evolution at Princeton in the wider context of the Princetonians' robust confidence in what he calls providential developmentalism. In so doing he opens up a rich vein of interpretation which exposes the superficiality of popular perception and partisan presumption alike. A splendid performance."
Ronald L. Numbers
-- University of Wisconsin
"For nearly a century Princeton, New Jersey -- home to a distinguished Presbyterian college and seminary -- was the epicenter of American debates over Darwinism and its various meanings. In this intellectually engaging account Bradley Gundlach explains the surprisingly diverse range of views struggling for survival in that Calvinist environment. There is no better introduction to the subject."
Karl Giberson
-- author of Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution
"In the decades leading up to the creation-evolution sideshow of the Scopes Trial, a far more sophisticated and important conversation about Darwin's theory occurred at Princeton University. Conservative, inerrantist, and solidly orthodox Princeton theologians responded thoughtfully and often constructively to evolution. Bradley Gundlach's Process and Providence brings this important conversation to life in a sure-footed, well-researched, and engaging narrative. I highly recommend this book for its important contribution to understanding the American response to Darwin."
John Fea
-- author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?
"Writing with the meticulous care of a historian and with a profound knowledge of his subject drawn from years in the archives, Bradley Gundlach has produced a book that will cause us to rethink much of what we know about the relationship between evolution and evangelicalism in American life."
Fides et Historia
"This judicious and beautifully written account significantly enriches our understanding of modern Christian thinking about the relationship between science and faith. Its expositions of primary texts and arguments repay close reading, prompting us to reconsider how the Old Princetonians might indeed serve as models for evangelicals today."
Books & Culture
"Gundlach explores how Princetonians themselves actually saw the evolution question. By giving them voice, he offers a fresh perspective on the major questions involved in evolutionary thinking during this critical period. . . . Perhaps Gundlach's study will help conservative Christians rethink some of the missteps made in the early 20th century."
Presbyterian Outlook
"It is a staple of American church history that the late nineteenth century witnessed the churches grappling with the challenges of evolution and biblical criticism. . . . Focusing on the theologians at both Princeton Seminary and Princeton University, Gundlach offers a careful reading and a finely nuanced chronicle of the Princeton theologians. . . . This book helps reveal the debates that still resound in some quarters, well into the twenty-first century."
Journal of American History
"Gundlach frames his narrative as a `group biography' of the intellectual community of Princeton, showing that these men saw themselves as more similar than different. With careful exegesis of their works and a well-documented understanding of personal relationships, the book invites consideration of Princeton not as a dichotomy defined by tensions among individuals, but as an intellectual community seeking consensus on the correct relationships between religion and science."
Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith
"Process and Providence excels at elaborating the underlying issues of each time period as well as introducing the individuals who were important contributors to the discussion. These nuances help the reader understand the significance of the discussions that took place as Princeton sought to deal with evolution in a thoughtful, welcoming, but theologically critical manner. . . . Gundlach reminds us that we can stand on the shoulders of a cloud of witnesses who did not sacrifice their belief in God's providence in order to accept the possibility of natural processes."
Presbyterian History
"The thoughtfulness and careful critique the Princetonians exercised in reflecting on evolution is a helpful model for present-day Christian thinkers responding to contemporary scientific theories and discoveries. This book is not a light read, but those seeking to think about how to respond theologically to science will be glad they did."
Reports of the National Center for Science Education
"Every now and then a book gets published that causes a re-evaluation of iconic historic characters. Process and Providence, by Bradley J Gundlach, is one such book. . . . Although perhaps too advanced in detail for a casual audience, I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a nuanced historical approach to science-faith interactions, and is not afraid to explore its implications for their preconceived beliefs."

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