Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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Unitarian theologian-ethicist who was a founding member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. Adams graduated from the University of Minnesota (1924) and Harvard Divinity School (S.T.B., 1927; M.A., 1930). He was ordained by the American Unitarian Association and served as pastor in Salem (1927-1934) and Wellesley Hills (1934-1935), Massachusetts. After study in Europe, he assumed a position as instructor in psychology and philosophy of religion at Meadville Theological Seminary before moving, in 1943, to the Federated Theological Faculties at the University of Chicago, where his doctoral thesis was completed in 1945. In 1957, he became the Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr., Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, and in 1968, the Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Andover Newton Theological Seminary, retiring in 1972. Throughout his career, Adams was recognized as a leading scholar on Paul Tillich, Ernst Troeltsch, and liberal Protestant ethical thought, especially in relation to modern culture.

William R. Garrett


J. L. Adams, Paul Tillich's Philosophy of Culture, Science, and Religion , Thesis, University of Chicago, 1945

J. L. Adams et al., The Thought of Paul Tillich (New York: Harper, 1985)

M. Stackhouse (ed.), On Being Human Religiously (Boston: Beacon, 1976).

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