Albert Barnes


One of the most influential American Presbyterian clergymen during the middle third of the nineteenth century and a central figure in the Old School-New School controversy that led to the 1837 denominational division. Born in Rome, New York, he graduated from Hamilton and Princeton. While serving his first charge in Morristown, New Jersey, he attracted attention because of an 1829 revival sermon entitled “The Way of Salvation,” which denied the doctrine of original sin and insisted that man was a free moral agent who could choose for or against Christian salvation. The Old School conservatives became increasingly alarmed when he accepted a call to the prestigious First Church of Philadelphia and also began a long-standing habit of expressing his biblical interpretations in the form of semi-scholarly, very widely read commentaries for laymen entitled Notes: Explanatory and Practical. Twice in the 1830s the Philadelphia Synod charged Barnes with doctrinal error, only to have the Presbyterian General Assembly acquit him. These difficulties influenced Barnes to join other New School ministers as an early leader of the independently controlled Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
While Barnes promoted and practiced the New School concept of revivalism that stemmed from the Second Great Awakening, he also led the New School Presbyterians in emphasizing that social concern should be the logical consequence of personal regeneration. Accordingly he vigorously participated in a variety of reform movements, including prohibition and abolition.
      W. C. Ringenberg
Bibliography. Barnes, Sermons on Revivals, Scriptural Views of Slavery, The Church and Slavery, and Life at Three Score and Ten; G. M. Marsden, The Evangelical Mind and the New School Presbyterian Experience; A. J. Stansbury, Trial of the Rev. Albert Barnes.

W. C. Ringenberg Ph.D., Michigan State University. Professor of History, Taylor University, Upland, Indiana.
Walter A. Elwell and Walter A. Elwell, vol. 1, Biographical Entries from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Biographical Entries from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology., electronic ed., Baker reference library; Logos Library System (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, c1984).

This Biographical Sketch comes from…

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)
Author: Elwell, Walter A.
Publisher: Baker Book House | Publication Date: 1997, c1984.

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)
– Walter A. Elwell, editor. The biographical articles from this classic
reference work are included in electronic form. They include
individuals from all eras of history and from many countries. Entries
are arranged alphabetically, from Peter Abelard to Ulrich Zwingli. Many
entries include bibliographical references and focus on the
individual’s theological dimension. More than two hundred contributors
represent a variety of diverse evangelical persuasions and national
backgrounds.
(ISBN 0-8010-0241-9)

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