Nathan Bangs (May 2, 1778 - May 3, 1862) was an American theologian in the Methodist tradition. Born in Stratford, Connecticut, he received a limited education, taught school, and in 1799 went to Canada, where
he spent three years as a teacher and land-surveyor. He worked for six years as an itinerant preacher in the Canadian provinces, and, on returning to New York, took a prominent part in the councils of the church.
In 1820 he was transferred from a pastorate in New York to the head of the Methodist book concern. Under his management debts were paid off and the business extended. He was also editor of the
Methodist Magazine. In 1828 he was appointed editor of the
Christian Advocate. When the Methodist Quarterly Review replaced the Methodist Magazine in 1832, the General Conference continued Bangs in the editorship.
Bangs was the principal founder and secretary of the Methodist missionary society. When appointed secretary of the missionary society in 1836, he devoted his chief energies to its service, until appointed president of the Wesleyan University, at Middletown,
Connecticut, in 1841. In 1842 he resumed pastoral work in New York, and in 1852 retired and employed himself during his remaining years chiefly in literary labors.
Bangs defended Arminianism against the
Calvinism of his day. He was a strong believer in
universal prevenient grace, arguing that it did not compromise the doctrine of
total depravity. He argued that because of grace, humankind obtains the ability to respond to God.
His most important work was a
History of the Methodist Episcopal Church from its Origin in 1776 to the General Conference of 1840 (4 vols., New York, 1839-'42). His other published works were a volume directed against Christianism, a new sect in New England
(1809); Errors of Hopkinsianism (1815); Predestination Examined (1817); Reformer Reformed (1818); Methodist Episcopacy (1820);
Life of the Rev. Freeborn Garettson (1832);
Authentic History of the Missions Under the Care of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1832); Letters to a Young Preacher (1835);
The Original Church of Christ (1836); Essay on Emancipation (1848);
State and Responsibilities of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1850); Letters on Sanctification (1851); a Life of Arminius;
Scriptural Vindication of the Orders and Powers of the Ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church; and numerous sermons.