America's God

America's God : From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

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Religious life in early America is often equated with the fire-and-brimstone Puritanism best embodied by the theology of Cotton Mather. Yet, by the nineteenth century, American theology had shifted dramatically away from the severe European traditions directly descended from the Protestant Reformation, of which Puritanism was in the United States the most influential. In its place arose a singularly American set of beliefs. In America's God, Mark Noll has written a biography of this new American ethos. In the 125 years preceding the outbreak of the Civil War, theology played an extraordinarily important role in American public and private life. Its evolution had a profound impact on America's self-definition. The changes taking place in American theology during this period were marked by heightened spiritual inwardness, a new confidence in individual reason, and an attentiveness to the economic and market realities of Western life. Vividly set in the social and political events of the age, America's God is replete with the figures who made up the early American intellectual landscape, from theologians such as Jonathan Edwards, Nathaniel W. Taylor, William Ellery Channing, and Charle Hodge and religious inspired writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Stowe to dominant political leaders of the day like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The contributions of these thinkers combined with the religious revival of the 1740s, colonial warfare with France, the consuming struggle for independence, and the rise of evangelical Protestantism to form a common intellectual coinage based on a rising republicanism and commonsense principles. As this Christian republicanism affirmed itself, it imbued in dedicated Christians a conviction that the Bible supported their beliefs over those of all others. Tragically, this sense of religious purpose set the stage for the Civil War, as the conviction of Christians both North and South that God was on their side served to deepen a schism that would soon rend the young nation asunder. Mark Noll has given us the definitive history of Christian theology in America from the time of Jonathan Edwards to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. It is a story of a flexible and creative theological energy that over time forged a guiding national ideology the legacies of which remain with us to this more

Product details

  • Hardback | 636 pages
  • 157 x 243.8 x 43.9mm | 1,047.81g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous tables
  • 0195151119
  • 9780195151114
  • 2,020,937

Review quote

...this is an absolutely terrific book. It is sweeping, insightful, provocative, and solidly based on omnivorous reading. Academics often speak glibly of a 'contribution to scholarship'. This is a 'contribution' of staggering proportion. * Journal of the American Academy of Religion * Noll belongs to a talented group of historians who have transformed our understanding of American evangelicalism ... Among Noll's many great strengths (all on display in this immense work) is his comparative method, based on wide learning in Protestant sources worldwide. * Times Literary Supplement * Magisterial history of theology in its political and philosophical setting ... Noll's learned, profound and insightful study shows better than any other work how the public morality of the USA was forged. * Church Times * No one can understand America without understanding the role of the churches. In future no one will be able to understand the history of Christianity in America without reading this monumental study. * Church of England Newspaper * This is a sweeping, magisterial work that cannot be ignored. As a history of American theological thought, America's God is not likely to be bettered for some time to come, and it will commend itself to historians and theologians alike. * Times Higher Education Supplement * ... a wide-ranging and dazzling study of the beliefs that shaped America from the colonial era to the 1861-65 Civil War. The book makes a fine case for the impact of religious ideas on public life, and is equally good in showing how those ideas were shaped by revolution, republican politics, slavery and civil war. A work of great distinction. * Richard Carwardine, Oxford University, BBC History Magazine, Books of the Year * America's God is essential reading for anyone interested in American history, politics and religion. Contained within its wealth of learning are important clues and insights into the outlook and culture of contemporary America. * Themelios * America's God is an impressive book ... This is 'top down' religious history on a grand scale and this re-interpretation of a crucial period on the nation's past will be the reference point for future historians. * Themelios * ... an authoritative, compelling case for the historical mingling of secular discourses about freedom, choice, and human agency with religious language about sin, salvation, and virtue ... the precision and depth of the argumentation frequently inspire mental more

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241 ratings
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