Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

Article excerpt

MARK A. NOLL. America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp ix + 622, bibliography, index. $35.00.

For at least a quarter of a century Mark A. Noll has been one of the most prolific of church historians. Some of his books have been scholarly monographs, among them Princeton and the Republic, 1768-1822: The Search for a Christian Enlightenment in the Era of Samuel Stanhope Smith (1989). Others have been "tracts for the times," such as The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994). Still others are aimed at the general reader, and in particular the college undergraduate. Here one finds his survey, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (1992).

America's God is Noll's most significant work to date, for this work, formidable in both size and content, traces the course of mainstream Protestant thought from the 173Os through the 186Os. He describes in detail the shift from the European tradition, descended from the Reformation, towards an evangelical theology shaped by its engagement with post-revolutionary America. This change Noll finds so radical that he can write, "It is not an exaggeration to claim that this nineteenth-century Protestant evangelicalism differed from the religion of the Protestant Reformation as much as sixteenth-century Reformation Protestantism differed from the Roman Catholic theology from which it emerged" (3). Noll makes vivid such supposedly obsolete debates as the incapacity of human nature in light of original sin, the effect of Adam and Eve on later generations, the best way to describe Christ's atoning work on the cross, and the possibility of human perfection.

At the end of the American Revolution, so Noll notes, church membership was low and Enlightenment thought predominated among many of the nation's founders. Yet within twenty years, the country saw a remarkable religious upsurge, thanks to a creative blending of three diverse elements that Noll calls "the American synthesis. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.