Tuesday, August 10, 2004

More on a Christian America

I mentioned The Search for Christian America, by Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch and George Marsden, yesterday. The purpose of the book is stated as "to examine carefully the popular belief that America was once a "Christian nation" which has now been all but overrun by secular humanism." p. 16. As one of Alan Keyes organizations is called "Renew America," and states that it is: "a clearinghouse for grassroots activism aimed at restoring and safeguarding religious liberty in America," I thought it might be useful to summarize a few of the points in the book. The three scholars in the book are preeminent Christian scholars of American Evangelicalism. On page 17, they state the argument of their book as:
  1. We feel that a careful study of the facts of history shows that early America does not deserve to be considered uniquely, distinctly or even predominately Christian, if we mean by the world 'Christian' a state of society reflecting the ideals presented in Scripture. There is no lost golden age to which American Christian may return. In addition, a careful study of history will also show that evangelicals themselves were often partly to blame for the spread of secularism in contemporary American life.
  2. We feel also that careful examination of Christian teaching on government, the state, and the nature of culture shows that the idea of a 'Christian nation' is a very ambiguous concept which is usually harmful to effective Christian action in society.

They go on to say that although they acknowledge the Christian and religious influences in America, "we still wish to call into question the assumption that just because many Christian have done many Christian deeds in America, the country enjoys simply a 'Christian heritage." p. 19.

As time permits, I plan to explore more of these concepts on a point by point basis with Alan Keyes' speeches.