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Samuel Johnson of Stratford in New England

Hardback, x + 302 pages
6 & 1/4 x 9 & 1/4 x 1 inches
First Printing (2011)

In this highly readable biography of the American clergyman, Samuel Johnson, Professor Don Gerlach recounts the life and times of a remarkable colonial intellectual who was also a man of profound faith. The book’s narrative traces Johnson’s life from his boyhood as a strict Calvinist in Connecticut, through his studies at the nascent Yale University, and shows how his encounters with the writings of church fathers, and the Anglican divines of earlier eras, led him to a deep and abiding belief in the correctness of the Anglican understanding of the Christian faith.

Examples of Johnson’s leadership in ecclesiastical affairs abound. He became a tutor and helped shape the intellectual life of many young men at Yale; then after taking holy orders in England, he became a leading light in the Anglican Church in Connecticut, training priests, planting parishes, and providing clergy for many more. A goal he pursued for much of his later life, that of bringing the Episcopate to the colonies, was not realized until after his death; however, his unfailing advocacy for the cause was an important factor in providing the American church with its first bishop, Samuel Seabury, Jr.

Johnson is perhaps best known to posterity as first president of King’s College, later Columbia University in New York. Gerlach’s research shows Johnson to have been a tireless and dedicated teacher, who penned his own book on his theories of education and philosophy. A scholar in his own right, Johnson was a frequent correspondent of Bishop Berkeley, and did much to promote an understanding of immaterialist philosophy among American intellectuals.

Samuel Johnson of Stratford in New England 
 sheds new light on a key period in American religious history, and treats subjects that those in the continuing Anglican movement will find relevant even today—the shaping of new church in America and the politics surrounding it.