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Ralph Waldo Emerson

1803-1882. American “Transcendentalist” minister. Descended from nine successive generations of ministers, he graduated from Harvard College and attended the divinity school there before accepting a pastorate in 1829 at Second Church of Boston, then Congregationalist and now Unitarian. For years he struggled over his faith and his vocation. Except for preaching, he disliked his work in the ministry. His sermons increasingly complained about “historical Christianity,” denied the distinction between natural and supernatural, and stressed the immanence of God. In 1832, with his refusal to administer Communion as the immediate reason, he resigned his pastorate. His first book, Nature, which became a kind of Transcendentalist bible, appeared in 1836, but it was his address before the Harvard Divinity School in 1838 which clearly drew the lines of the Unitarian controversy. Emerson's Christ was strictly human; he advocated a “faith in man,” not “in Christ” but “like Christ's.” The battle