Sweeney, Douglas A.
SWEENEY, Douglas A.
Married; wife's name Wilma; children: David. Education: Wheaton College, B.A., 1986; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, M.A. (history of Christian thought), 1989; Vanderbilt University, M.A. (religion), 1993, Ph.D., 1995.
Home—Lindenhurst, IL. Office—Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2065 Half Day Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015.
Aquinas College, adjunct professor of ethics, 1995; Yale University, lecturer in church history, 1996-97; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of church history and the history of Christian thought, 1997—, chair of Church History and the History of Christian Thought Department, director of Center for Theological Understanding. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, visiting professor, 2000; presenter at conferences.
American Society of Church History, Organization of American Historians, Evangelical Theological Society, Association of Teaching Theologians—ECLA, Presbyterian Historical Society, Conference on Faith and History.
George N. Mayhew Fellowship, Vanderbilt University, 1990-91; visiting fellowship, Princeton University Library, 1994; Award for Exceptional Professional Growth, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1999; Jonathan Edwards Research Fellowship, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, 2003-04.
(Editor, with Wilson H. Kimnach and Kenneth P. Minkema) The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1999.
(Editor, with David W. Kling) Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 2003.
(Editor) The Miscellanies: Entry Nos. 1153-1360, Yale University Press (New Haven, NJ), 2004.
The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.
Editor of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Yale University, 1995-97; book review editor, Fides et historia, 1996—; editorial board, Trinity Journal, 1997—. Contributor of articles to books, including Dictionary of the Presbyterian and Reformed Tradition in America, edited by Mark A. Noll and D.G. Hart, Inter-Varsity (Downers Grove, IL), 1999, and periodicals, including Books & Culture, New England Journal, New England Quarterly, Reviews in American History, Christian Scholar's Review, Fides et Historia, and Church History.
Religious historian and theologian Douglas A. Sweeney has published several titles tracing the origins of religion and its subsequent changes in the United States, as well as books devoted to the lives and work of Jonathan Edwards and Nathaniel Taylor.
Sweeney's interest in Edwards is featured in The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, which he edited with Wilson H. Kimnach and Kenneth P. Minkema. As the formative voice of colonial Evangelicalism in the United States, president of what was to become Princeton University, and the architect of the "Great Awakening" in New England, Edwards's sermons were Calvinist in tradition, urging conversion and also scholarship. Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, writing in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, praised the book, calling it a "sparkling collection [that] … reveals the full range of Edwards's preaching," and commended the editors' selections as "[demonstrating] not only the development of Edwards's preaching over time but the range of themes in his sermons."
Sweeney coedited, with David W. Kling, Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons, which was published in conjunction with the three-hundredth anniversary of Edwards's birth and was the result of a 2000 conference at the University of Miami on the subject of Edwards. The purpose of the collection, according to Sweeney and Kling as quoted by D.G. Hart in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, is to decipher Edwards's role in developing Protestantism into what it is today: "We know a great deal … about this otherworldly man … we still know precious little about his roles in shaping this world." However, Hart concluded, because the scholarship on Edwards is so vast, "parts of the book have the feel of being a bit arbitrary in the topics selected for scrutiny."
Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, which is an expanded version of Sweeney's doctoral dissertation, presents the biography of one of the first professors at Yale Divinity School after its founding in 1822. Sweeney charts how Taylor's theology arose in reaction to the Massachusetts Unitarians and the Calvinists of New Jersey and their respective institutions, Harvard and Princeton. "Taylorism," or "New Haven Theology," as it was known, was an American form of Evangelicalism based on the teachings of John Edwards. As a work of scholarship attempting to place Taylor within the tradition of Edwardsian theology, the book succeeds, according to Wayne S. Hansen of Church History: "Sweeney's work is a valuable resource, and many of his arguments are rather convincing. He has given his readers a thoroughly researched and finely nuanced interpretation of Taylor." However, though Bruce Kuklick, writing in Books and Culture, appreciated the book's extensive notes as "a treasure trove for the serious scholar," he also questioned the author's attempt at placing Taylor in a different historical context by wondering: "Why is Sweeney driven to make Taylor an Edwardsean?"
Sweeney's book The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement outlines the sweeping changes in Protestantism that began in the early eighteenth century during England's "Great Awakening," and culminated in the wide-ranging success of Evangelicalism in the turn-of-the-twenty-first-century America. Beginning with the teachings of George Whitefield, who was sent from England to impart Evangelicalism to early American churches, all the way through the age of missionaries, the rise of the African-American church, Pentecostalism, Billy Graham, and the latter-day appearance of fundamentalism in politics, Sweeney recounts this history in "nimble, unmannered, jargonfree prose," according to Ray Olson in Booklist. Similarly, Library Journal critic Anna M. Donnelly praised the book as a "refreshingly modern text" that "offers insightful perspectives on today's many evangelical denominations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2005, Ray Olson, review of The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement, p. 1972.
Books & Culture, May-June, 2003, Bruce Kuklick, "In Jonathan Edwards' Shadow: Rescuing Nathaniel Taylor," p. 12.
Church History, June, 2005, Wayne S. Hansen, review of Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, p. 389.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October, 2001, Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, review of The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, p. 763; July, 2005, D.G. Hart, review of Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons, p. 611.
Library Journal, July 1, 2005, Anna M. Donnelly, review of The American Evangelical Story, p. 87.
Theological Studies, March, 2004, Jason A. Nicholls, review of Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, p. 224.