From Destructiontionist to Restorationist:
                            The Religious Evolution of Rev. Adin Ballou

     Adin Ballou was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island in 1803.  He was a descendant of Maturin
    Ballou, a Huguenot who was with Roger Williams at the time of the founding of Rhode Island.   

     Adin went to school about three months a year until he was fifteen and then went to Dean
    Academy in Franklin for a few months.

      In 1813, during a period referred to as the Second Great Awakening, Ballou's parents joined a
    newly organized faith called the Christian Connexion. (The Spann book uses this spelling.  I've
    seen it elsewhere as "Connection.")  A common argument of the time involved the fate of sinners.  
    Many rejected the idea of Hell, and questioned why God would create billions of souls, while
    knowing that many (most?) of them were to suffer eternal punishment.  Some felt that all would
    be saved while members of the Christian Connexion thought that, rather than being punished,
    the souls of the sinners would be destroyed.  This view became known as "Destructionism."

      At the age of seventeen, engaged to Abby Sayles and with no particular career in mind, Ballou
    began giving some thought to the ministry but was evidently not totally sold on the idea.  One
    night, however, he had a vision of his dead brother, Cyrus, saying, "God commands you to
    preach the Gospel of Christ to your fellow man."  Soon after, he preached a sermon at the local
    meeting-house where his father was a deacon, and shortly later he became its minister.

     Several years went by and Ballou became the defender of the local Destructionists.  As he
    debated the merits of the idea with the Universalists, he eventually became convinced that he
    was wrong and they were right.  This, of course, led to his dismissal by the Christian Connexion
    congregation.   Ballou joined the Universalists and spent a brief but somewhat lively period as a
    once a month preacher in Bellingham.  

     In 1823, at the age of twenty, he became the Universalist minister in Milford.  While he didn't
    believe in eternal damnation, neither did he believe that the souls of the sinners were to be let off
    easy.  He felt there would be a time of punishment for those who deserved it, followed by
    salvation.

     While in Milford, three weeks after the birth of their second child, Abby died.  A year later Ballou
    married Lucy Hunt.

    Most Universalists of the time believed in universal salvation without punishment but as time
    went on, Ballou became more vocal in his opinion that sinners would be punished before being
    restored to their rightful place in Heaven.  Those who held this view were referred to as
    Restorationists.  In 1830, Ballou began publishing The Independent Messenger, a Restorationist
    weekly newspaper.  Within a month, he was fired from the Milford church.

      Before long, Ballou's Restorationism as well as his other liberal religious beliefs led to his
    appointment as minister of the First Congregational (Unitarian) Church in Mendon.  He remained
    there until his move to Hopedale in 1842. During his time in Mendon in the 1830s, Ballou
    gradually increased his interest in the various causes of the era.  These included opposition to
    smoking (after a successful struggle to give it up himself) and alcohol, promotion of moral
    reform, women's rights, non-resistance, Practical Christian socialism and, above all,
    abolitionism.  In 1841, these ideals became the basis for the formation of the Hopedale
    Community.   

     In The History of the Hopedale Community, writing of the year 1867, Ballou states, "The end of
    the Community was now at hand.  That consummation was hastened by the formation of what
    was called The Hopedale Parish; a name which the organization still bears.  The reason for this
    new movement can be briefly stated and easily apprehended.  With the advance of time the
    disproportion between the number of Community members resident at Hopedale and non-
    members had so greatly increased that the latter were largely in the majority.  And yet they had no
    voice whatever in the management of matters pertaining to the activities and institutions of
    religion, in which they took more or less an interest, and for the maintenance of which they were
    year by year asked to contribute.  There was an inequality in this which arrested attention -- a
    wrong which the common moral judgement recognized and affirmed ought to be righted.

     "Measures were therefore initiated looking to some change in the administration of religious
    affairs...  These resulted in the organization on the 27th of October, 1867, of an association
    bearing the before mentioned name, under a Constitution setting forth its origin, its relations to
    the Community, its functions, and general mode of administration.  This new body, which three
    months later, with myself as Pastor, was admitted to "The Worcester Conference of
    Congregational (Unitarian) and other Christian Societies," entered directly upon the execution of
    its proper work, the responsibilities and duties of which were cheerfully transmitted to it by the
    Community, and as cheerfully assumed on its part.  The formal act of transmission took place at
    the Annual Community Meeting held Jan. 8, 1868.

     Ballou died in Hopedale on August 5, 1890.

     Most of the above is a summary of Edward Spann's From Commune to Company Town, pp. 3-
    9.  The "end of the Community" paragraph, as stated, is from Ballou's The History of the
    Hopedale Community, pp. 333 - 334.

                                                 Community Beliefs

    Hopedale Community was founded upon Ballou’s Universalist beliefs about Christianity. He
    believed that Jesus Christ had made it possible for people to live a good life on Earth and so this
    community was instituted to be an example of this life. The Christian lifestyle at Hopedale was
    more concerned with equality, love and sharing than it was about the dogmas of religion. In his
    book, Practical Christian Socialism, Ballou outlines the principles of theology, righteousness and
    social order.

    I. Principles of Theological Truth
    1. The existence of one All-Perfect Infinite God.
    2. The mediatorial manifestation of God through Christ.
    3. Divine revelations and inspirations given to men.
    4. The immortal existence of human and angelic spirits.
    5. The moral agency and religious obligation of mankind.
    6. The certainty of a perfect divine retribution.
    7. The necessity of man’s spiritual regeneration.
    8. The final universal triumph of good over evil.

    II. Principles of Personal Righteousness.
    1. Reverence for the Divine and spiritual.
    2. Self-denial for righteousness’ sake.
    3. Justice to all beings.
    4. Truth in all manifestations of mind.
    5. Love in all spiritual relations.
    6. Purity in all things.
    7. Patience in all right aims and pursuits.
    8. Unceasing progress towards perfection.

    III. Principles of Social Order
    1. The supreme Fatherhood of God.
    2. The universal Brotherhood of Man.
    3. The declared perfect love of God to Man.
    4. The required perfect love of Man to God.
    5. The required perfect love of Man to Man.
    6. The required just reproof and disfellowship of evildoers.
    7. The required non-resistance of evildoers with evil.
    8. The designed unity of the righteous.

     For much more on Ballou, click here to go to a biography on the Unitarian-Universalist site.
        

Ballou's house in Mendon:  1831 - 1842

    The 1860 church built on the site of the present (built in 1898)
    Hopedale Unitarian Church. It served as the Practical Christian
    Church until 1868, when it became the Unitarian Church.
Adin Ballou
Lucy Hunt Ballou

    The Ballou house on its original location at
    the corner of Peace and Hopedale streets. In
    1900 it was moved to 64 Dutcher Street,
    across from the town park. The original
    house lot is now the site of Adin Ballou Park.

    Thanks to Rev. Patricia Hatch for sending this picture of
    the Ballou home in Cumberland. It's from Adin Ballou's
    Elaborate History of the Ballous in America.

Click here to go to a more complete page (also on this site) about Adin Ballou.