ORDER AND ARDOR: THE REVIVAL SPIRITUALITY OF REGULAR BAPTIST OLIVER HART, 1723–1795
Eric Coleman Smith, Ph.D.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2015
Chair: Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin
This dissertation argues that Regular Baptist Oliver Hart shared the revival spirituality of the Great Awakening, and that revival played a greater role in Regular Baptist identity than is often suggested. Chapter 2 demonstrates that Hart’s life and ministry were profoundly shaped by the evangelical revival of the eighteenth century. He was converted in revival as a young man, promoted revival at the height of his ministry in Charleston, South Carolina, and longed for revival in his latter years in Hopewell, New Jersey. Chapter 3 examines Hart’s revival piety. The theology of the Christian life that undergirded his ministry was the evangelical Calvinism that united Christians from across denominational lines during the Great Awakening. Chapter 4 focuses on the most intense personal experience of revival in Hart’s ministry, an awakening among the youth of the Charleston Baptist Church in 1754. An analysis of Hart’s diary during this period proves that it belongs to the emerging genre of eighteenth century “revival narrative,” epitomized in Jonathan Edwards’s A Faithful Narrative. Chapter 5 shows that Hart’s spirituality was marked by the evangelical activism of the Great Awakening, as illustrated by his efforts in evangelism, gospel partnerships, education, and politics. Chapter 6 demonstrates that Hart and a number of other Regular Baptists shared in the evangelical catholicity of the revival. While Hart embraced the ecumenical impulse of the awakening to promote revival, he also maintained deep Baptist convictions.||en_US