Horace Bushnell (1802-1876), minister and theologian, is sometimes called “the father of
American religious liberalism.” Influenced by Emerson, Coleridge, and Schleiermacher,
the controversial Bushnell thoroughly critiqued the emphasis on the conversion
experience so popular among the Christian revivalists of his time. Unlike some of the
liberal theologians popular in Continental Europe, however, Bushnell firmly believed
in Christ’s divinity. He fiercely defends this conviction in The Character of Jesus, arguing that no mere human could do what Christ had done. While Bushnell does not
read the Gospels as entirely historical, he nevertheless affirms that no such account of
Jesus’ life could exist if not for his divinity.