Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thanks Darryl Hart

Darryl Hart of Hillsdale college has written a very encouraging and positive review of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction at an online magazine affiliated with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Here is a taste:

Polls reveal that close to eighty percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian. This statistic likely accounts for the approximately seventy percent of adults in the United States who think that America is a Christian nation. To answer the title of Fea’s book in the negative is a sign of disloyalty within some sectors of American society. The book is more an attempt to clarify the sets of issues that go into an answer than it is an argument about the religious character of the United States. Fea builds on years of experience as a student of the American founding and a teacher of pious undergraduates with preconceived ideas about a Christian America. Some may become frustrated that Fea takes a simple question and complicates it. But as the examples of England and Turkey suggest, “Christian-nation” status is not a simple matter....

The value of Fea’s book is not simply the careful historical questions he puts before readers that break through received religious and patriotic pieties. He also inserts sufficient distance between the United States as a political manifestation and the Christian religion, so that believers can entertain the notion that America is good even if it is not explicitly or formally Christian. Too often the categories used by Christian apologists for America lack a middle term. For them, either the nation can only be either Christian or opposed to it. Fea allows for a different category that is neither holy nor profane, one by which Christians may recognize the United States as valuable, wholesome, and virtuous (with admitted defects) without turning the nation into a Christian endeavor. Fea himself does not answer the question of his title explicitly. But his deft handling of some of the issues involved in sound historical answer will help readers be as careful as is his book.

Thanks, Darryl.