The Civil War was a major turning point in American religious thought, argues Mark A. Noll. Although Christian believers agreed with one another that the Bible was authoritative and that it should be interpreted through commonsense principles, there was rampant disagreement about what Scripture taught about slavery.
Furthermore, most Americans continued to believe that God ruled over the affairs of people and nations, but they were radically divided in their interpretations of what God was doing in and through the war.In addition to examining what white and black Americans wrote about slavery and race, Noll surveys commentary from foreign observers. Protestants and Catholics in Europe and Canada saw clearly that no matter how much the voluntary reliance on scriptural authority had contributed to the construction of national civilization, if there were no higher religious authority than personal interpretation regarding an issue as contentious as slavery, the resulting public deadlock would amount to a full-blown theological crisis. By highlighting this theological conflict, Noll adds to our understanding of not only the origins but also the intensity of the Civil War.
The book is published by University of North Carolina Press.
©2006 University of North Carolina Press (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks
"An informative account of the theological dramas that underpinned and were unleashed by the Civil War... This book's substantive analysis belies its brevity... This slim work of history is surprisingly timely." (Publishers Weekly)
Noll does an excellent job of handling the theological positions and presuppositions involved in exegesis of slavery in antebellum America. This is not just a direct history; I have been thoroughly impressed with Noll's understanding of historical theology that informs his work.
I was impressed at points such as when he dealt with the inconsistency of a pro-slavery position in Reformed theology that did not allow for a bifurcation between the nation of Israel and the US at the time.
Warning: this is not the type of book you listen to while surfing the internet or perhaps more thought intensive tasks. I caught myself "drifting" a few times if I did not focus on the reading.
Great book; thanks Dr. Noll!
As far as the narrator, I think this is the first I have listened to him. He did mispronounce Karl Barth and George Whitefield's name and a few others. Not a big deal, but sort of sounds like nails scraping a chalk board to a theologian :)
Shaun Price, PhD student, Practical Theology, University of Aberdeen
Religion plays such a pivotal role in American history, and the 19th Century in particular was an age of great religious foment; yet the role that religion played in the civil War isn't much discussed. this book may have started out as a Doctoral Thesis, or a scholarly piece, but it's very readable and well-written.
Conservative Catholic Curmudgeon
A comprehensive and exhaustive review and analysis of theological views about slavery before and during the Civil War. Noll's findings are often surprising and immensely insightful.
Various viewpoints carefully set out, and relevance to theological struggles today, for example in my Episcopal Church, where extremely conservative voices argue Scripture minutely, while ignoring its sweep.
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