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Henry Ward Beecher

1813-1887. American Congregational minister. Son of Lyman Beecher,* he was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, and graduated from Amherst College and Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, of which his father was president. He was refused ordination by the Old School Miami (Ohio) Presbytery and was ordained by the New School Presbytery of Cincinnati in 1838. After two Indiana Presbyterian frontier charges he was pastor of the Plymouth Church of Brooklyn (Congregational) from 1847 to 1887. He became world famous as a dramatic and witty preacher, and he was also a political activist and reformer. Theologically he departed from Calvinism and radically reinterpreted the Bible in moralistic terms, laying great stress on God's love. His disbelief in a literal hell and his acceptance of the evolutionary hypothesis brought criticism, but none so great as an unproven adultery charge which overshadowed his later years. His works include The Plymouth Pulpit (10 vols.) and Yale Lectures on Preaching (1872-74). He was founder and for over ten years editor of the Christian Union, later The Outlook.