Fea offers an even-handed primer on whether America was founded to be a Christian nation, as many evangelicals assert, or a secular state, as others contend. He approaches the title's question from a historical perspective, helping readers see past the emotional rhetoric of today to the recorded facts of our past. Readers on both sides of the issues will appreciate that this book occupies a middle ground, noting the good points and the less-nuanced arguments of both sides and leading us always back to the primary sources that our shared American history comprises.
Fea, history professor at Messiah College, does not answer the title query because, he says, "it's a bad question." Instead, Fea urges, think like a historian. Turns out, history is not about picking the best fruit off the vine to support your opinion--or the opinions of TV talkers--it's about doing your homework. He does just that to produce this primer, as he calls it, which defines "history," "nation," and "Christian." Fea studied current position papers of proponents and opponents of the title's question, and he read from the past: the Federalist papers, John Adams and Jefferson's writings, state constitutions, debate resolutions. In part one, the author traces the concept of a Christian nation from 1789 to today; part two focuses on the American Revolution, from the British colonies' points of view to the constitutional "wall of separation between church and state." Part three, the most fluid and fascinating, profiles specific founders, their orthodoxy vs. their orthopraxy, especially concerning the topic of complex, un-Christian slavery. Fea's style, clean and simple, persuades by history, not histrionics. (Feb.)Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.
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