Tuesday, April 25, 2006

William B. Greene: The Doctrine of the Trinity

William Batchelder Greene's theological works are almost unknown today, but they form the immediate context for his better-known works on mutual banking, which were written while he was the minister of a Unitarian church in South Brookfield, MA. Like my predecessors, I've been a bit remiss in concentrating on these works, at least where the archive is concerned, but I've started to address that problem with a pdf edition of The Doctrine of the Trinity :
Briefly and Impartially Examined in the Light of History and Philosophy
(1847). A look at the chronological bibliography of Greene's work places this pamphlet, between the earliest theological works--"First Principles," The Doctrine of Life, and the essays on transcendentalism ([1][2] with which it shares some concerns) on the one hand, and The Incarnation and Remarks in Refutation of the Treatise of Jonathan Edwards, which essentially complete the "trilogy" promised in the opening "Note:"

This Tract commences and ends abruptly, because it was written, not to stand alone by itself, but to form one of a series of Articles on Providence, the Will of Man, and Necessity, the three great Powers that govern. the World. I may take occasion at some future time, to print the other Tracts of the series.

The work is largely one of comparative religion, addressing a variety of non-Christian instances of trinitarian thought. As a Baptist-turned-Unitarian, Greene wrestled a great deal with the common dogmas of the trinitarians. Here is a fine example of the the Rev. Mr. Wm. B. Greene, of South Brookfield, the man who wrote Equality and Mutual Banking. He is a much less familiar figure to most of us than Col. Greene, who befriended a young Benjamin R. Tucker and presided over the meetings of the New-England Labor Reform League, but also, in many ways, a more interesting and vital figure.

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