Offsite Review: Was America Founded As a Christian Nation by John Fea

Was America Founded As a Christian Nation? A Historical IntroductionThere are far too many good books to read them all. That is the main point for reviews. It is also important to pay attention to experts in a field when reading specialized books, like sciences or history. Too often popular authors cherry pick data to prove a point, and while more academic scholars may be more balanced that is not always the case.

So it is useful to read review (preferably more than one) from others that are in the field.  Books and Culture Magazine can be relied upon to get qualified reviewers.  The details of whether American was founded as a specifically Christian nation (or particularly chosen by God) is a very political issue, as well as a theological or historical one.  John Fea’s book Was America Founded As a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction is an attempt to take on the historical issues and counter the cloudy history of David Barton.

Was America founded as a Christian nation? To many, the answer is undoubtedly yes. The most aggressive proponent of this position, David Barton, president of WallBuilders, insists that America was and still is a Christian nation. With ease, Barton quotes a wide array of primary sources that seem to point to the obvious conclusion that America’s founders originally intended to establish a Christian nation. In a Fox News interview on The Mike Huckabee Show, for instance, Barton claimed that “of the fifty-six” men who “signed the Declaration [of Independence], twenty-nine actually held seminary degrees” and “more than half of them held Bible school degrees.”[1] Barton uses these historical claims as evidence of America’s Christian origins and then to justify policy positions on a variety of moral and political issues facing the United States.

The actual role that Christianity played in the nation’s founding, however, is more complicated than Barton lets on. While graduates of colonial colleges often did enter the ministry and mandatory Bible courses were typically part of their curriculum, America’s founders did not, in fact, attend seminaries or Bible colleges. The nation’s first seminary, Andover, was not established until 1807, and Bible schools did not come into existence until the late 19th century. To many academic historians, Barton appears to be incredibly ill-informed or dissembling.

continue reading the rest of the review at Books and Culture Magazine

 

One Comment

I recently read the American Gospel by Jon Meacham on a whim and thought it was very good. It examines the religious beliefs of many of the Founding Fathers and then tracks the beliefs of the prominent Presidents and other public figures throughout the years. Saying that America was founded as a Christian nation is a difficult decision to defend. Assuredly different Revolutionary leaders had different religious ideas, but to say that the majority want America to be a Christian nation is beyond a stretch.

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