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The Search for Christian America [Paperback]

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Item Number 125235  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   200
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.58 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1989
Publisher   Helmers & Howard Publishers
ISBN  0939443155  
EAN  9780939443154  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"The Search for Christian America" explores key questions raised by the movement asserting the Christian heritage of the U.S. and calling for its recovery. Through careful historical and contemporary analysis, the authors address such issues as: how much Christian action is required to make a whole society Christian; Puritan New England as case study; Christian principles vs. baptised ideology in the Revolutionary period; the stumbling block of incorrect views of America's history for effective Christian involvement in critical public issues; the relationship of Christian convictions to political or social agendas; learning to think historically as a guard against shortsighted or simplistic approaches. Ample footnotes and a bibliographical essay make this volume a helpful reference tool for further study of the Christian nation debate and related issues. Mark A. Noll is Professor of History at Wheaton College. George M. Marsden is Professor of the History at University of Notre Dame. Nathan O. Hatch is President of Wake Forest University.

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More About Mark A. Noll, George M. Marsden & Nathan O. Hatch

Mark A. Noll Mark A. Noll (born 1946) is a historian specializing in the history of Christianity in the United States. He holds the position of Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Noll himself is a Reformed evangelical Christian, and in 2005 was named by Time Magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America.

Noll is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois (B.A, English), the University of Iowa (M.A., English), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A., Church History and Theology), and Vanderbilt University (Ph.D, History of Christianity). Before coming to Notre Dame he was on the faculty at Wheaton College, Illinois for twenty-seven years, where he taught in the departments of History and Theology as McManis Professor of Christian Thought. While at Wheaton, Noll also co-founded (with Nathan Hatch) and directed the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.

Noll is a prolific author and many of his books have earned considerable acclaim within the academic community. In particular, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, a book about anti-intellectual tendencies within the American evangelical movement, was widely covered in both religious and secular publications. He was awarded a National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office by President George W. Bush in 2006.

Noll, along with other historians such as George Marsden, Nathan O. Hatch, and David Bebbington, has greatly contributed to the world's understanding of evangelical convictions and attitudes, past and present. He has caused many scholars and lay people to realize more deeply the complications inherent in the question, "Is America a Christian nation?" In 1994, he co-signed Evangelicals and Catholics Together, an ecumenical document that expressed the need for greater cooperation between Evangelical and Catholic leaders in the United States.

Since the Fall of 2006, Noll has been a faculty member in Department of History at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He replaced the retiring George Marsden as Notre Dame's Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History.Noll stated that the move to Notre Dame has allowed him to concentrate on fewer subjects than his duties at Wheaton had allowed.

Mark A. Noll currently resides in the state of Illinois. Mark A. Noll was born in 1946.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Almost as timely now as it was then  Mar 16, 2005
This book is a necessary edition for the Christian seeking a balanced, objective view of American history. The authors firmly establish Christianity's influence in the past without sentimentalizing or idolizing it, yet pay due (and accurate) respect to where Christianity and Christians have influenced history and may continue to influence American society.

The book has held up well since its initial 1980s publication, but recent events cry out for an updated edition.
Unusual and Effective Polemic  Feb 26, 2005
This very interesting book is aimed at evangelical Christians but can be read profitably by individuals of any faith, including those who lack religous faith. The 3 authors are all distinguished historians of American religion and also committed evangelical Christians. The goal of this polemic is to rebut ideas popular among evangelicals that the USA was founded as "Christian Nation," that our founding documents are extensions of biblical scripture, and that there has been a recent falling away of the USA from its Christian past. While this book was written approximately 20 years ago, these ideas continue to be popular. As conservative evangelicals have assumed a larger role in political life, there are increasing attempts to move these ideas out of the conservative evangelical Christian community. Some of the proponents of these ideas quoted in this book, like Tim LaHaye and Jerry Falwell, will be familiar from their contemporary roles in political life. Others, like James Dobson, have attained prominence more recently, but espouse doctrines essentially identical to the ones discussed in Search for Christian America.
Noll, Hatch, and Marsden base their critique on two planks. One is simply that the "Christian Nation" version of American history, particularly the early history of the republic, is wrong. Reflecting a large volume of outstanding scholarship, including some produced by the authors, Noll, Hatch, and Marsden, emphasize the relatively modest role that explicitly Christian thought had in the founding of the republic. Indeed, as they point out, some of the most explicitly Christian features of the Revolutionary period, such as Protestant anti-Catholic bigotry, are some of the least attractive features of this period of American life.
The second plank of this critique is theological in nature. The authors produce a cogent set of warnings about indiscriminate entangling of Christianity with nationalism and uncritical patriotism. They argue well that such entanglements can be detrimental to correct Christian action. As they stress, this criticism is hardly novel, indeed, some of the argument is based on the writings of notable American Protestant leaders like Roger Williams, Isaac Backus, Jonathan Edwards,and Samuel Hopkins. Noll, Hatch, and Marsden are not arguing that evangelical Christians should withdraw from public life or that religously motivated concerns are illegitimate in public life. Quite the opposite, but they stress that such action should be based on truthful understanding of American history and rigorous theological thinking.
This short book is written clearly, referenced well, and is backed by the impressive knowledge of the authors. Its a pity its not read more widely.
A potentially great book diminished by flawed reasoning  Dec 28, 2002
I was given this book by a friend who wanted to convince me that America was not a "Christian Nation." The book failed to do so, but not because it was not well written or scholarly in its approach to the subject. In fact, the research is excellent, and the book deals very fairly with the influence of religion in the early nation. The problem is that the authors' conclusions are based upon certain assumptions that I dispute, and that they fail to prove are legitimate in the first place. They claim that we are not a Christian nation because there is no biblical evidence that God planned a "new Israel" in America. I agree. But they have no way to prove or disprove that the faith and prayer of our forebears actually brought God's blessing upon this continent in a real and direct sense. It did not have to be prophesied to be a reality. Many of God's great works were never foretold.

They also claim that doctrinal impurity in many churches prevent this from being a Christian nation. That might be so if this were an actual theocracy, but that isn't what's under consideration here. We're talking about the general principles of law and civil government. Were they, or were they not founded in keeping with general Biblical principles? Of course they were. The actual doctrinal views of the founders is unimportant.

The authors argue that the majority of Americans have never been Christians. That is also irrelevant. According to II Chronicles, God doesn't demand that a whole nation turn to Him in order to receive His blessing - He only commands His people (as many or as few as that may be) to remain faithful, and the whole land will be blessed. And God's Word is replete with stories of His mighty works through a faithful few, in spite of overwhelming odds, and in spite of the disdain of the "majority."

But finally, the authors contend that it was never actually the intent of the founders to establish a "Christian Nation." Wrong. It was not their intent to establish a theocracy, but it was clearly their intent to establish a nation upon Christian principles. That fact has even been recognized by the Supreme Court (Vidal v. Girard's Executors, U.S. v. Church of the Holy Trinity).

The problem is clearly with how you define "Christian nation." The authors seem to define it as a Christian theocracy, and as such spend an entire book refuting a point that very few would argue in the first place.

For every American Christian, and every Christian American:  Oct 22, 2001
A fascinating look at the truly history of Christianity and the American state. The authors present a very well-researched treatise on how our nation has never been a Christian nation- both because such a nation is impossible, and because we have never been truly a Christian people. But the authors don't present there case too extremely- they strongly promote and welcome the idea of America having been influenced substantially by Christians and Christian thinking. Of particular interest was the chapter on the American Rebellion and Revolution, in which they point out only four of the founding fathers- John Jay, John Witherspoon, Roger Sherman, and Patrick Henry- were what we would consider evangelical today, and even they were not putting Christ first in their theology at all times. The vast majority of the rest were of course Deist.

Though these ideas may seem radical to some readers, Noll presents a great deal of evidence to back up the work, including references to more scholarly work on the their part and a very helpful and informative bibliographic essay at the end. The text is designed for the general public, so is not cluttered with difficult theological or political concepts, or copious notes.

After reading this, I found I could not consider myself "proud to be an American". Not that America is evil. Noll show clearly that there is a bit of God and a bit of satan in American history and culture, as there is in every society. But the clear presentation of how far America has been from the ideals of the gospel, and how often this gets covered up, was astounding. I am proud of the good parts- the God parts. But, if I once could, I can not now look at the history any longer and see it as something specially greater than that of other histories and other nations.
De-myths the Golden Age of American Christianity  Feb 2, 2001
I remember my seminary class on the History of American Christianity and the professor stating that the fundamentalist view that American was founded and needs to return to her Christian roots is fraught with significant historical errors made me ponder who was telling the truth here?

When I asked him for help, he did the right thing: said, go and look at the evidence yourself: primary historical documents. Giving me some good ones, I soon discovered that not all what the fundies have been telling is the story. Things taken out of context, paraphrased, others overlooked paints an unrealistic, unhistorical view of what they say is "the golden age of American Christianity."

These three prominent Christian historians in this book give great summary of this historical evidence in this book. What harm is done you ask? This book so aptly demonstrates that this distorts our dialogue over current public issues by incorrectly presenting American history.

They carefully expound the dangers of treating the naturalistic ideals of the founders on par with Scipture and likewise a lack of discernment between God's people and worldly culture.

This book is a short, precise and articulate presentation against the overdramatization of our founding history which zealouts then use to bully both those inside and outside the faith for Godly purposes. Higly recommended.


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