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Parker, Theodore


Unitarian minister; b. Lexington, Mass., Aug. 24, 1810; d. Florence, Italy, May 10, 1860. Parker was a child prodigy, but poverty prevented his receiving any formal education. He taught school for some years to finance his studies at Harvard Divinity School; he was ordained in 1837 as pastor at West Roxbury, Mass. He stressed the immanence of God in nature and the human mind, and rejected many traditional Christian teachings. Parker became the center of controversy with the publication of The Transient and Permanent in Christianity (1841) and Discourse of Matters Pertaining to Religion (1842). After resigning his pastorate, he organized his own Boston, Mass., congregation in 1845. Parker was active in reform movements, particularly the antislavery cause. He wrote abolitionist tracts and participated in the rescue of fugitive slaves.

Bibliography: Collected Works, ed. f. p. cobbe, 14 v. (London 186371). h. s. commager, Theodore Parker (Boston 1936). j. e. dirks, Critical Theology of Theodore Parker (New York 1948).

[r. k. macmaster]

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