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Lyman Abbott

1835-1922. Congregational minister. Born in Massachusetts, he was educated at New York University and practiced law before deciding to enter the ministry of the Congregational Church. He became a pastor in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1860 and after the Civil War served as an executive of the American Union Commission which promoted reconstruction in the South. He wrote for Harper's Magazine, then became editor of the Illustrated Christian Weekly in 1870. In 1876 he joined H.W. Beecher* as an editor of the Christian Union. In 1888 he was called to succeed Beecher as pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. Abbott was one of the most influential American religious thinkers of his time. Until the 1880s he remained fairly orthodox, then gradually accepted radical biblical criticism and became a theological liberal. He accepted Darwinism and applied the evolutionary principle to religious questions: even God could be conceived as an immanent evolutionary power; history is the record of divinity out of humanity; “what Jesus was, humanity is becoming”. Abbott's books include The Theology of an Evolutionist (1897) and Reminiscences (1915).

See Evolution.