Mount Union Professor David Torbett Authors Book on Theology and Slavery

April 27, 2010

David Torbett, assistant professor of religious studies at Mount Union College, has authored a book on theology and slavery.

His first release, 'Theology and Slavery: Charles Hodge and Horace Bushnell,' examines two American Protestant theologians: the archconservative Charles Hodge and the archliberal Horace Bushnell. These two theologians represent two poles of thought that continually assert themselves when American Protestants speak out on social issues.

The book provides a case study in the moral implications of each of these theologians and upsets conventional understandings of the relationship of conservative and liberal Protestantism to slavery and race.

'I wanted to look at how these two dealt with the most important moral issue of their time, which was slavery,' said Torbett. 'I hoped that they could serve as a moral case study, and that they might have something to teach us about what it might mean to apply these theological views to current moral problems.'

Bushnell, despite his strong opposition to slavery, embraced peculiar theories of African inferiority that were foreign to Hodge. He predicted that the end of slavery would be a precursor of the extinction of the African people on the American continent.

'This book challenges conventional stereotypes about conservative and liberal Protestantism, slavery, and race,' Torbett said. 'It is the first book-length comparison of these two theologians on this subject.'

Torbett, who has also taught at Ashland University, earned a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

'Theology and Slavery: Charles Hodge and Horace Bushnell' can be purchased at the Mount Union College Bookstore.

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