America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln
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America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln   -     By: Mark A. Noll
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America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

Oxford University Press / Hardcover

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Often, religious thought in early America is simply equated with the severe Puritanism of Cotton Mather, or it is assumed to be some other product of European church life imported to North America. Yet, by the middle of the nineteenth century, theology in the United States had shifted dramatically away from European traditions associated with the Reformation and had become distinctively American. In this book, Mark Noll has provided a masterly account of this translation and what it signified for the meaning of Christian theology itself.
In the decades preceding the outbreak of the Civil War, American theologians mastered the conceptual languages of republican political thought and commonsense moral reasoning. Because religious thinkers learned to speak these languages so well, Christian theology came to play an extraordinarily important role in American public life. Theology contributed profoundly to the new nation's self-definition and in turn, American ideologies exerted a profound impact on religion. Public thought and religious thought moved together, with a stress on individual freedom, a new confidence in intuitive reasoning capacity, and attention to the market realities of the opening American economy. By setting the era's leading religious figures in their broader political, intellectual, and social contexts, Noll is able to offer fresh interpretations of the era's most significant theologians like Jonathan Edwards, Nathaniel W. Taylor, William Ellery Channing, and Charles Hodge, as well as important lay religious thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catherine Beecher, and Abraham Lincoln.

Product Information

Title: America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln
By: Mark A. Noll
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 622
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Dimensions: 9.5 X 6.5 X 1.7 (inches)
Weight: 2 pounds 5 ounces
ISBN: 0195151119
ISBN-13: 9780195151114
Stock No: WW151119

Publisher's Description

Religious life in early America is often equated with the fire-and-brimstone Puritanism best embodied by the theology of Cotton Mather. Yet, by the nineteenth century, American theology had shifted dramatically away from the severe European traditions directly descended from the Protestant
Reformation, of which Puritanism was in the United States the most influential. In its place arose a singularly American set of beliefs. In America's God, Mark Noll has written a biography of this new American ethos. In the 125 years preceding the outbreak of the Civil War, theology played an
extraordinarily important role in American public and private life. Its evolution had a profound impact on America's self-definition. The changes taking place in American theology during this period were marked by heightened spiritual inwardness, a new confidence in individual reason, and an
attentiveness to the economic and market realities of Western life. Vividly set in the social and political events of the age, America's God is replete with the figures who made up the early American intellectual landscape, from theologians such as Jonathan Edwards, Nathaniel W. Taylor, William
Ellery Channing, and Charles Hodge and religiously inspired writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Stowe to dominant political leaders of the day like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The contributions of these thinkers combined with the religious revival of the 1740s, colonial
warfare with France, the consuming struggle for independence, and the rise of evangelical Protestantism to form a common intellectual coinage based on a rising republicanism and commonsense principles. As this Christian republicanism affirmed itself, it imbued in dedicated Christians a conviction
that the Bible supported their beliefs over those of all others. Tragically, this sense of religious purpose set the stage for the Civil War, as the conviction of Christians both North and South that God was on their side served to deepen a schism that would soon rend the young nation asunder.
Mark Noll has given us the definitive history of Christian theology in America from the time of Jonathan Edwards to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. It is a story of a flexible and creative theological energy that over time forged a guiding national ideology the legacies of which remain with us to
this day.

Editorial Reviews


"Essential reading for anyone interested in American history, politics and religion."-- Themelios


"America's God deserves to be hailed as the most comprehensive treatment of early American religious thought. But it is far more than that, since Mr. Noll is tracking here not only the rise and fall of American theology but also the genesis of American civilization...Mr. Noll laments the passing of
Christian republicanism and in the end suggests that a dose of Jonathan Edwards ('the last of the Puritans and the first of the evangelicals') may be just what contemporary America needs. You do not have to agree with that assessment to appreciate this fine book, which brings some of the nation's
greatest thinkers very much alive."--Wall Street Journal


"Noll belongs to a talented group of historians who have transformed our understanding of American evangelicalism Among Noll's many great strengths (all on display in this immense work) is his comparative method, based on wide learning in Protestant sources worldwide."--Times Literary Supplement


"Carefully documented and including an excellent bibliography, this insightful volume makes a useful contribution to the study of religion in America"--Library Journal


"For academics-historians, theologians, and anyone else interested in the history of political thought, religion, philosophy, or theology-this book is essential reading"-- The Cresset Epiphany/Lent


"Mark Noll's America's God delineates the Americanization of an Old World Protestantism with a breadth, learning, and sophistication unmatched by any other historian. Noll uncovers hidden, obscure figures even as he breathes new life into seemingly familiar names. Those who think intellectual
history is dead or irrelevant will be jolted by the wondrous vigor of this exceptional, synoptic book. There's nothing else like it."--Jon Butler, author of Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People


"Likely to remain definitive for years to come."--Anglican and Episcopal History


"America's God is a richly rewarding work. Awesomely researched and beautifully written, Mark Noll's magisterial study embeds American religious thought from the late Colonial era through the Civil War in its cultural and political context. Not only historians of religion, but everyone interested in
the ideas and beliefs that shaped America's past--and still remain potent today--will profit from this insightful interpretive study."--Paul S. Boyer, Editor-in-Chief, The Oxford Companion to United States History


"Noll's book is the most comprehensive study of religious ideas in America that we have, and a work that makes the most sustained case for the impact of the spiritual on American public life. The book is original and well argued; and the research is impeccable. Some will not agree with Noll's
arguments but everyone interested in religious thought will have to consider them."--Bruce Kuklick, author of A History of Philosophy in America: 1720-2000


"This 'social history of theology' in America, from the colonial era through the Civil War, promises to reshape the way we think about American religion, and, indeed, American history...Noll's trademark clarity--both in analysis and in prose--is in evidence here...Equally obvious is Noll's erudite
mastery of everything from Puritan ecclesiology to Scottish moral philosophy. This is, finally, the magisterial work that has long been expected from one of our leading historians."--Publishers Weekly


"A broadly based and solid account of the surprising evolution of Christian theology in America during the golden age of Protestant evangelicalism. Mark Noll's magnum opus is a notable achievement of Christian and historical scholarship."--Daniel Walker Howe, Rhodes Professor of American History,
Oxford University


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