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Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845–1929
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Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845–1929


Eerdmans 2013

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Charles Hodge, James McCosh, B. B. Warfield—these leading professors at Princeton College and Seminary in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are famous for their Orthodox Protestant positions on the doctrine of evolution. In this book, Bradley Gundlach explores the surprisingly positive embrace of developmental views by the whole community of thinkers at old Princeton, showing how they embraced the development not only of the cosmos and life-forms but also of Scripture and the history of doctrine, even as they defended their historic Christian creed.

Decrying an intellectual world gone “evolution-mad,” the old Princetonians nevertheless welcomed evolution “properly limited and explained.” Rejecting historicism and Darwinism, they affirmed developmentalism and certain non-Darwinian evolutionary theories, finding process over time through the agency of second causes—God’s providential rule in the world—both enlightening and polemically useful. They also took care to identify the pernicious causes and effects of anti-supernatural evolutionisms. By the 1920s their nuanced distinctions, together with their advocacy of both biblical inerrancy and modern science, were overwhelmed by the brewing fundamentalist controversy.

From the first American review of the pre-Darwinian Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation to the Scopes Trial and the forced reorganization of Princeton Seminary in 1929, Process and Providence reliably portrays the preeminent conservative Protestants in America as they defined, contested, and answered—precisely and incisively—the many facets of the evolution question.

In the Logos edition, Process and Providence is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Explores how influential conservative theologians in the nineteenth century dealt with the problem of evolution
  • Analyzes the ways the community of thinkers at Princeton Seminary defined and answered the questions posed by evolutionism


  • Natural History and the Moral Sphere
  • The Battle Cry
  • Seize and Master
  • McCosh and Hodge
  • To Mold the Age
  • Theism and Evolution
  • Natural Religion
  • Supernaturalism
  • Fundamentalism

Praise for the Print Edition

Bradley Gundlach has written the best kind of history—deeply researched, beautifully written, carefully thought through. He rehearses how scholars at Princeton Seminary and Princeton University dealt with the evolution question(s).—with balance, learning, nuance, perception, and theological depth—the very qualities that mark this book. One can only hope that this fine historical study will encourage those in our day who continue to wrestle with the evolution question(s)

Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

In a pioneering analysis Gundlach locates the story of evolution at Princeton in the wider context of the Princetonians’ robust confidence in what he calls providential developmentalism. In so doing he opens up a rich vein of interpretation which exposes the superficiality of popular perception and partisan presumption alike. A splendid performance.

—David Livingstone, professor of geography & intellectual history, Queen’s University Belfast

For nearly a century Princeton, New Jersey—home to a distinguished Presbyterian college and seminary—was the epicenter of American debates over Darwinism and its various meanings. In this intellectually engaging account Bradley Gundlach explains the surprisingly diverse range of views struggling for survival in that Calvinist environment. There is no better introduction to the subject.

—Ronald L. Numbers, Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine Emeritus, University of Wisconsin

In the decades leading up to the creation-evolution sideshow of the Scopes Trial, a far more sophisticated and important conversation about Darwin’s theory occurred at Princeton University. Conservative, inerrantist, and solidly orthodox Princeton theologians responded thoughtfully and often constructively to evolution. Bradley Gundlach’s Process and Providence brings this important conversation to life in a sure-footed, well-researched, and engaging narrative. I highly recommend this book for its important contribution to understanding the American response to Darwin.

—Karl W. Giberson, professor of physics, Eastern Nazarene College

Writing with the meticulous care of a historian and with a profound knowledge of his subject drawn from years in the archives, Bradley Gundlach has produced a book that will cause us to rethink much of what we know about the relationship between evolution and evangelicalism in American life.

John Fea, associate professor, Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Product Details

  • Title: Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845–1929
  • Author: Bradley J. Gundlach
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 408

About Bradley J. Gundlach

Bradley J. Gundlach is professor of history at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. He also serves as book review editor for Fides et Historia, the journal of the Conference on Faith and History.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition