The Colonial State Churches
Most of the European writings in church history still treat American religious life as a footnote to the history of European Christendom. This "footnote" was added out of charity, since the tremendous variety of religious societies in the United States simply demonstrated to the Continental that religious freedom resulted in anarchy and sectarianism. Only recently, under the impress of the ecumenical movement, have a few universities on the Continent begun to pay attention to the burgeoning vitality and strength of the "Younger Churches" of North America, Africa, Asia, and the islands of the sea. What the European scholars have not yet recognized is the fact that, although the American churches were once colonies of European Christendom, today the religious life in the U.S.A. is different in kind from that of the early period. It is not surprising, however, that the European intellectuals should treat church life in America as an unimportant appendix to the mother churches: most American seminaries still do exactly the same thing. American church history is also neglected in the seminaries of this country, and the church views of the sixteenth-century state-church reformers are proclaimed as sturdily as if they actually had controlling significance for the twentieth- century American religious setting.