Category Archives: Christian America

An American Exceptionalism Bibliography

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Below is a list of selected sources on American exceptionalism that I have found useful over the past several months. The topic is quite broad—my book is a treatment of exceptionalism in terms of historical theology, intellectual history, and American religious history. But exceptionalism can also be studied as political theory, sociology, economics, and even geography. So this bibliography is nowhere near exhaustive.

Still, I found each of these books helpful as I considered American exceptionalism. If you are interested in the topic, I hope you may find this bibliography useful. I’ve divided up the books by the following categories:

1. General Titles
2. Political Theory
3. Nationalism/American Nationalism
4. Puritans
5. Colonial Period
6. Revolutionary War
7. Early Republic/Antebellum America
8. Mexican American War
9. Territorial Expansion
10. Manifest Destiny
11. Slavery
12. Civil War
13. Abraham Lincoln
14. Theodore Roosevelt
15. Woodrow Wilson/World War I
16. World War II
17. Cold War
18. Ronald Reagan
19. War on Terror
20. American Exceptionalism/Civil Religion
21. Historical Thinking
22. Christian America
23. American Religion
24. Millennialism
25. Chosenness
26. Land
27. Civic Engagement
28. Church and State
29. Race

This bibliography is a work in progress, so if you see something I’ve missed, please do not hesitate to let me know!

General Titles

Adams, James Truslow. The Epic of America. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1932.

Stark, Rodney. America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton, 2012.

Peterson, Houston, ed. A Treasury of the World’s Great Speeches. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954.

Augustine. Concerning the City of God Against the Pagans. Translated by Henry Bettenson. New York: Penguin, 2003.

Mead, Walter Russell. God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World. New York: Knopf, 2007.

Kazin, Michael. American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation. New York: Vintage, 2011.

Bancroft, George. History of the United States, From the Discovery of the American Continent. 8 volumes. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1860.

Durant, Will and Ariel. The Story of Civilization. Vol. 7, The Age of Reason Begins: A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo, and Descartes: 1558–1648. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961.

________. The Story of Civilization. Vol. 6, The Reformation: A History of European Civilization from Wyclif to Calvin: 1300–1564. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957.

Beard, Charles. The Rise of American Civilization. New York: Macmillan, 1930.

Commager, Henry Steele. The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment. New York: Anchor, 1978.

Political Theory

Hacker, Louis and Helene S. Zahler, eds. The Shaping of the American Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1947.

Locke, John. Second Treatise on Civil Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, edited by Raymond Geuss and Quentin Skinner. 1960. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Hartz, Louis. The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since the Revolution. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1955.

Sandoz, Ellis. A Government of Laws: Political Theory, Religion, and the American Founding. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2001.

Rousseau, Jean Jacques. The Social Contract. The Great Books of the Western World, edited by Robert Maynard Hutchins, no. 38. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952.

Lerner, Max. America as a Civilization: Life and Thought in the United States Today. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957.

De Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. With an introduction by Alan Ryan. New York: Knopf, 1994.

Nationalism/American Nationalism

Kedourie, Elie. Nationalism. 4th exp. ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1993.

Boorstin, Daniel J. The Americans: The National Experience. With a foreword by Sean Wilentz. Francis Parkman Prize edition. New York: History Book Club, 2002.

Swomley, John M. American Empire: The Political Ethics of Twentieth-Century Conquest. London: Macmillan, 1961.

Baldwin, Leland D. The American Quest for the City of God. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1981.

Fousek, John. To Lead the Free World: American Nationalism and the Cultural Roots of the Cold War. Chapel Hill, N.C., 2000.

McKnight, Scot and Joseph B. Modica, eds. Jesus Is Lord; Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies. With a foreword by Andy Crouch. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2013.

Nichols, Christopher McKnight. Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age. 2011; repr, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015.

Ninkovich, Frank. Global Dawn: The Cultural Foundation of American Internationalism, 1865-1890. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.

________. The Global Republic: America’s Inadvertent Rise to World Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

________. The United States and Imperialism. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001.

Kohn, Hans. American Nationalism: An Interpretive Essay. New York: Macmillan, 1957.

Baritz, Loren. City on a Hill: A History of Ideas and Myths in America. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1964.

De Riencourt, Amaury. The American Empire. New York: Dell, 1968.

Ferguson, Niall. Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. New York: Penguin, 2004.

Hart, Justin. Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of US Foreign Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Hartman, Andrew. A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Puritans

Bercovitch, Sacvan The Puritan Origins of the American Self. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975.

________., ed. The American Puritan Imagination: Essays in Revaluation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

________. The American Jeremiad. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978.

Bremer, Francis J and Lynn A. Botelho, eds. The World of John Winthrop: Essays on England and New England, 1588-1649. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2005.

McKenna, George. The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

Miller, Perry and Thomas H. Johnson, eds. The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings. Vol. 1. 1963. Reprint, Mineola, NY: Dover, 2001.

Miller, Perry, ed. The American Puritans: Their Prose and Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1956.

________. The American Puritans: Their Prose and Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1956.

________.. Errand Into The Wilderness. Cambridge: Belknap, 1956.

________.. The New England Mind: From Colony to Province. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954.

________.. The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954.

Perry, Ralph Barton. Puritanism and Democracy. New York: Vanguard, 1944.

Colonial Period

Phillips, Kevin. The Cousin’s Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America. New York: Basic, 1999.

Revolutionary War

Wood, Gordon .The Radicalism of the American Revolution. New York: Knopf, 1992.

Albanese, Catherine L. Sons of the Fathers: The Civil Religion of the American Revolution. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976.

Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Enlarged edition. Cambridge: Belknap, 1992.

Bonomi, Patricia U. “Religious Dissent and the Case for American Exceptionalism.” In Religion in a Revolutionary Age, Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, eds. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994.

Byrd, James P. Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Colbourn, Trevor. The Lamp of Experienced: Whig History and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution. 2nd edition. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998.

De Crèvecoeur, J. Hector St. John. Letters from an American Farmer and Sketches of Eighteenth Century America. Edited with an introduction by Albert E. Stone. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Gaines, James R. For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions. New York: Norton, 2007.

Maier, Pauline. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Smith, Page, ed. Religious Origins of the American Revolution. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1976.

Early Republic/Antebellum America

Cheathem, Mark R. Andrew Jackson: Southerner. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2013.

Ellis, Joseph J. American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Oxford History of the United States, edited by David M. Kennedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Beeman, Richard. Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution. New York: Random House, 2009.

Freehling, William W. The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Meacham, Jon. American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. New York: Random House, 2006.

Potter, David M. The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848–1861. Completed and edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher. 1976. Reprint, New York: Harper Perennial, 2011.

Reynolds, David S. Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.

Shalev, Eran. American Zion: The Old Testament as a Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.

Wood, Gordon S. Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different. New York: Penguin, 2006.

________. The Creation of the American Republic: 1776 –1787. 2d ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

________. The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States. New York: Penguin, 2011.

Wilentz, Sean. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. New York: Norton, 2005.

Mexican American War

Clary, David A. Eagles and Empire: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle for a Continent. New York: Bantam, 2009.

Pinheiro, John C. Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War. New York: Oxford, 2014.

Territorial Expansion

Billington, Ray Allen. Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan, 1960.

Drinnon, Richard. Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building. 1980. Reprint, Norman, OK: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Etulan, Richard W., ed. Does the Frontier Experience Make America Exceptional? Historians at Work, edited by Edward Countryman. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999.

Goetzmann, William H. Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West. Francis Parkman Prize edition. New York: History Book Club, 2006.

Kluger, Richard. Seizing Destiny: How America Grew from Sea to Shining Sea. New York: Knopf, 2007.

Kukla, Jon. A Wilderness so Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America. New York: Knopf, 2003.

Morgan, Ted. A Shovel of Stars: The Making of the American West—1800 to the Present. New York: Touchstone, 1995.

________. Wilderness at Dawn: The Settling of the North American Continent. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Manifest Destiny

Gomez, Adam. “Deus Vult!: John L. O’Sullivan, Manifest Destiny, and American Democratic Messianism.” American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture 1.2 (Fall 2012): 236–262.

Hawk, L. Daniel. Joshua in 3-D: A Commentary on Biblical Conquest and Manifest Destiny. Eugene: Cascade, 2010.

Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Manifest Destiny. Greenwood Guides to Historic Events, 1500-1900, Linda S. Frey and Marsha L. Frey, eds. London: Greenwood, 2003.

Hietala, Thomas R. Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism and Empire. Revised edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985.

Hofstadter, Richard “Manifest Destiny and the Philippines.” In Daniel Aaron, ed. America in Crisis: Fourteen Crucial Episodes in American History. New York, 1952.

Merk, Frederick. Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History. With a foreword by John Mack Faragher. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Stephanson, Anders. Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of Right. New York: Hill and Wang, 1995.

Slavery

Baptist, Edward E. The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic, 2014.

Blassingame, John W.. The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South. 1972. Reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Davis, David Brion. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Horton, James Oliver and Lois E. Horton. Slavery and the Making of America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave. 1853.

Civil War

McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Moorhead, James H. American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War, 1860-1869. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978.

Noll, Mark. The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

Abraham Lincoln

Diggins, John Patrick. On Hallowed Ground: Abraham Lincoln and the Foundations of American History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Wolf, William J. The Almost Chosen People: A Study of the Religion of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Doubleday, 1959.

Guelzo, Allen C. Abraham Lincoln, Redeemer President. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Lincoln, Abraham. Selected Speeches and Writings. With an introduction by Gore Vidal. New York: Library of America Paperback Classics, 2009.

McPherson, James M., ed. “We Cannot Escape History”: Lincoln and the Last Best Hope of Earth. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Mead, Sidney E. “Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Last, Best Hope of Earth’: The American Dream of Destiny and Democracy,” Church History 23:1 (March 1954): 3–16.

White, Ronald C. The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words. New York: Random House, 2005.

Theodore Roosevelt

Beale, Howard K. Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of America to World Power. The Albert Shaw Lectures on Diplomatic History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1956.

Burton, David H. Theodore Roosevelt: Confident Imperialist. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1968.

Dalton, Kathleen. Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life. New York: Knopf, 2002.

DiNunzio, Mario, ed. Theodore Roosevelt: An American Mind, Selected Writings. New York: Penguin, 1994.

Roosevelt, Theodore. The Winning of the West. 4 volumes. Introduction by John Milton Cooper, Jr. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

________. Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography. 1913. Reprint, New York: Da Capo, 1985.

Woodrow Wilson/World War I

Babik, Milan. Statecraft and Salvation: Wilsonian Liberal Internationalism as Secularized Eschatology. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2013.

Gamble, Richard. The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003.

MacMillan, Margaret. Paris, 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. With a foreword by Richard Holbrooke. New York: Random House, 2001.

Ninkovich, Frank. The Wilsonian Century: U. S. Foreign Policy Since 1900. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Wilson, Woodrow. A History of the American People. Five Volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1908.

World War II

Borgwardt, Elizabeth. A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.

Kaye, Harvey. The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014.

Cold War

Inboden, William. Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945–1960. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Kinzer, Stephen. The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War. New York: Henry Holt, 2013.

Niebuhr, Richard. The Irony of American History. New York: Scribner’s 1952.

Offner, Arnold A. Another Such Victory: President Truman and the Cold War, 1945–1953. Stanford Nuclear Age Series. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

Preston, Andrew. Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith. New York: Anchor, 2012.

Van Dusen, Henry P., ed. The Spiritual Legacy of John Foster Dulles: Selections from His Articles and Addresses. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960.

Freeman, Joshua B. American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power, the Democratic Revolution at Home, 1945–2000. The Penguin History of the United States. New York: Viking, 2012.

Ronald Reagan

Harrison, Maureen and Steve Gilbert, eds. The Speeches of Ronald Reagan. 2004. Reprint, Excellent Books, 2014.

Reagan, Ronald. Speaking My Mind: Selected Speeches. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989.

________. The Reagan Diaries. Edited by Douglas Brinkley. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007.

Skinner, Kiron K., Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, eds. Reagan, In His Own Hand. New York: Touchstone, 2001.

War on Terror

Bacevich, Andrew J. The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. New York: Metropolitan, 2008.

Woodward, Bob. Bush At War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.

American Exceptionalism/Civil Religion

Ceasar, James W. “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism.” American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture 1.1 (Spring 2012): 3-28.

Cherry, Conrad, ed.. God’s New Israel: Religious Interpretations of American Destiny. Revised Edition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Bellah, Robert N. and Phillip E. Hammond. Varieties of Civil Religion. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980.

________. Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditional World. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

________. The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in Time of Trial. New York: Seabury, 1975.

Cobbs Hoffman, Elizabeth. American Umpire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013.

Chesterton, G. K. What I Saw in America. Civium Press, 2012.

Deneen, Patrick J. “Cities of Man on a Hill.” American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture 1.1 (Spring 2012): 29-52.

Dunn, Charles, ed. American Exceptionalism: The Origins, History, and Future of Our Nation’s Greatest Strength. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013.

Edwards, Jason A. and David Weiss. The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism: Critical Essays. London: McFarland, 2011.

Fischer, Claude S. Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Gamble, Richard M. In Search of the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth. New York: Continuum, 2012.

Gardella, Peter. American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Gelernter, David. Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

Gingrich, Newt and Vince Haley. A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters. Washington: Regnery, 2011.

Glaser, Elizabeth and Hermann Wellenreuther, eds. Bridging the Atlantic: The Question of American Exceptionalism in Perspective. Publications of the German Historical Institute. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Greene, Jack P. The Intellectual Construction of America: Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

Guètin, Nicole. Religious Ideology in American Politics: A History. London: McFarland, 2009.

Guyatt, Nicholas. Providence and the Invention of the United States, 1607-1876. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Haberski, Raymond. God and War: American Civil Religion Since 1945. London: Rutgers University Press, 2012.

Hodgson, Godfrey. The Myth of American Exceptionalism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Hughes, Richard T. Myths America Lives By. With a foreword by Robert N. Bellah. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003.

Kagan, Robert. The World America Made. New York: Knopf, 2012.

Leithart, Peter J. Between Babel and Beast: America and Empires in Biblical Perspective. Theopolitical Visions, Thomas Heilke, D. Stephen Long, and C. C. Pecknold, eds. Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2012.

Lieven, Anatol. America, Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Lipset, Seymour Martin. American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.

________. The First New Nation: The United States in Historical and Comparative Perspective. London: Transaction, 2003.

Lockhard, Charles. The Roots of American Exceptionalism: Institutions, Culture, and Policies. New York: MacMillan, 2003.

Madsen, Deborah L. American Exceptionalism. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998.

Mead, Sidney E. “Nation With the Soul of a Church,” Church History 36:3 (September 1967): 262–83.

Onuf, Peter S. “American Exceptionalism and National Identity.” American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture 1.1 (Spring 2012): 77-100.

Pease, Donald E. The New American Exceptionalism. Critical American Studies Series, George Lipsitz, ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

Pierard, Richard V. and Robert D. Linder. Civil Religion and the Presidency. Grand Rapids: Academie, 1988.

Pullen, John J. Patriotism in America: A Study of Changing Devotions, 1770-1970. New York: American Heritage Press, 1971.

Remillard, Arthur. Southern Civil Religions: Imagining the Good Society in the Post-Reconstruction Era. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

Restad, Hilde. American Exceptionalism: An Idea That Made a Nation and Remade the World. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Robbins, James S. Native Americans: Patriotism, Exceptionalism, and the New American Identity. New York: Encounter, 2013.

Schuck, Peter H. and James Q. Wilson, eds. Understanding America: The Anatomy of an Exceptional Nation. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008.

Shafer, Byron E., ed. Is America Different?: A New Look at American Exceptionalism. Oxford, 1991.

Strong, Josiah. Our Country. Jurgen Herbst, ed. Cambridge: Belknap, 1963.

Historical Thinking

Boyd, Jonathan. “This Holy Hieroglyph: Providence and Historical Consciousness in George Bancroft’s Historiography.” PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, 2001.

Cheng, Eileen Ka-May. The Plain and Noble Garb of Truth: Nationalism and Impartiality in American Historical Writing, 1784-1860. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

Clark, Gordon H. Historiography, Secular and Religious. 1971. Reprint Jefferson, MD: Trinity, 1994.

Fea, John, Jay Green, and Eric Miller, eds. Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010.

Fea, John. Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013.

Keillor, Stephen J. God’s Judgments: Interpreting History and the Christian Faith. With a foreword by Mark A. Noll. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2007.

Le Goff, Jacques. History and Memory. Translated by Steven Rendall and Elizabeth Claman. European Perspectives, Lawrence D. Kritzman and Richard Wolin, eds. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

McKenzie, Robert Tracy. The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2013.

Molho, Anthony and Gordon S. Wood, eds. Imagined Histories: American Historians Interpret the Past. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Momigliano, Arnaldo. The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography. With a foreword by Riccardo di Donato. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

Nash, Ronald H. The Meaning of History. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1998.

Noble, David W. Historians Against History: The Frontier Thesis and the National Covenant in American Historical Writing Since 1830. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1965.

Wood, Gordon. The Purpose of the Past: Reflections of the Uses of History. New York: Penguin, 2008.

Christian America

Fea, John. Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2011.

Hughes, Richard T. Christian America and the Kingdom of God. With a foreword by Brian McLaren. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

Kruse, Kevin. One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America. New York: Basic, 2015.

Noll, Mark A., Nathan O. Hatch, and George M. Marsden. The Search for Christian America. Colorado Springs: Helmers and Howard, 1989.

Throckmorton, Warren and Michael Coulter. Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Grove City: Salem Grove, 2012.

Wilsey, John D. One Nation Under God?: An Evangelical Critique of Christian America. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011.

American Religion

Gaustad, Edwin S. and Mark A. Noll, eds. A Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1877. Third ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

Gaustad, Edwin S. Faith of the Founders: Religion and the New Nation, 1776-1826. Second edition. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2004.

________.. A Religious History of America. Revised edition. New York: Harper San Francisco, 1990.

Heimert, Alan. Religion and the American Mind: From the Great Awakening to the Revolution. With a foreword by Andrew Delbanco. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1966.

Herberg, Will. Protestant-Catholic-Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology. New York: Doubleday, 1955.

Hoffer, Peter Charles, ed. The Marrow of American Divinity: Selected Articles on Colonial Religion. New York: Garland, 1988.

Hoffman, Ronald and Peter J. Albert, eds. Religion in a Revolutionary Age. Perspectives on the American Revolution, Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, eds. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1994.

Holmes, David L. The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Kidd, Thomas S. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution. New York: Basic, 2010.

Lambert, Frank. The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture, 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

________. Religion and American Culture. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990.

Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.

________. America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

________. Christians in the American Revolution. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2003.

Humphrey, Edward Frank. Nationalism and Religion in America: 1774-1789. New York: Russell and Russell, 1965.

Sandoz, Ellis, ed. Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1991.

Stout, Harry S. The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture iln Colonial New England. 25th Anniversary ed. With a foreword by Mark A. Noll. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

West, John G., Jr. The Politics of Revelation and Reason: Religion and Civic Life in the New Nation. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1996.

Witham, Larry. A City on a Hill: How Sermons Changed the Course of American History. New York: HarperOne, 2007.

Millennialism

Bloch, Ruth Heidi. “Visionary Republic: Millennial Themes in America Ideology, 1756-1800.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1980.

Tuveson, Ernest Lee. Millennium and Utopia: A Study in the Background of the Idea of Progress. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1949.

________. Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

National Election

Anderson, Braden P. Chosen Nation: Scripture, Theopolitics, and the Project of National Identity. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2012.

Smith, Anthony D. Chosen Peoples: Sacred Sources of National Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Land

Brinkley, Douglas. The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America. New York: Harper, 2009.

Burge, Gary M. Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to ‘Holy Land’ Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010.

Burrow, John. A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances, and Inquiries from Herodotus to Thucydides to the Twentieth Century. New York: Knopf, 2008.

Fiege, Mark. The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2012.

Glave, Dianne D. and Mark Stoll, eds. “To Love the Wind and the Rain”: African Americans and Environmental History. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006.

Glave, Dianne D. Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Chicago: Lawrence Hill, 2010.

Hersey, Mark D. My Work is That of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

Kennedy, Roger G. Mr. Jefferson’s Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Muir, John. The Eight Wilderness Discovery Books. London: Diadem, 1992.

Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

Smith, Kimberly K. African American Environmental Thought: Foundations. American Political Thought, Wilson Carey McWilliams and Lance Banning, eds. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007.

McClay, Wilfred and Ted V. McAllister, eds. Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America. New York: New Atlantis, 2014.

Righter, Robert W. The Battle Over Hetch-Hetchy: America’s Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism. New York: Oxford, 2006.

Stoll, Mark. Inherit the Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism. New York: Oxford, 2015.

Civic Engagement

Forsythe, Clarke D. Politics for the Greatest Good: The Case for Prudence in the Public Square. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2009.

Guiness, Os. A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2012.

Hauerwas, Stanley. After Christendom? How the Church is to Behave if Freedom, Justice, and a Christian Nation are Bad Ideas. Nashville: Abingdon, 1991.

Koyzis, David T. Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003.

Lasch, Christopher. The True and Only Heaven: Progress and its Critics. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991.

Noll, Mark. One Nation Under God? Christian Faith and Political Action in America. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.

Noll, Mark, ed. Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the 1980s. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Noll, Mark A. and Luke E. Harlow, eds. Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present. 2nd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Schlossberg, Herbert. Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture. With a preface by Robert H. Bork and a foreword by Charles Colson. Wheaton: Crossway, 1990.

Church and State

Driesbach, Daniel L. and Mark David Hall, eds. The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009.

Kemeny, P. C., ed. Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2007.

Wilson, John F. and Donald L. Drakeman, eds. Church and State in American History: The Burden of Religious Pluralism. Second ed. Boston: Beacon, 1987.

Race

Blum, Edward J. W. E. B. Du Bois: American Prophet. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

________. Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2005.

De Beaumont, Gustave. Marie or, Slavery in the United States. Translated by Barbara Chapman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Du Bois, W. E. B. Writings. Edited by Nathan Huggins. New York: Library of America, 1986.

Horsman, Reginald. Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Marable, Manning and Garrett Felber. The Portable Malcolm X Reader. New York: Penguin, 2013.

Washington, James Melvin, ed. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: HarperOne, 1986.

A Christian Britain?

British-Empire-Flags1Brantley Gasaway presented the issue of whether or not it is appropriate to consider Britain as a Christian nation the other day at Religion in American History. A very interesting question, and one that is getting attention because of Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments on the subject.

Gasaway begins his piece with an acknowledgement that many readers may be somewhat tired of thinking about the idea of a Christian nation. I certainly hope not! A large share of my scholarship addresses the question of whether America is a Christian nation or not. But he also raises a really important point–Americans aren’t the only ones who have ever considered themselves a Christian nation.

One of the best books I have ever read on the history of religious exceptionalism and nationalism is Anthony Smith’s Chosen Peoples: Sacred Sources of National Identity. In this work, Smith locates four objects in what he calls “the sense of the sacred” in national identity: 1) the community, which considers itself chosen by God, 2) the land itself, which the nation considers sacred, 3) what Smith calls “the glorious past,” that is, the mythological/glorified past of the nation, and 4) “the glorious dead,” and the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives for the causes of the nation.

One of the many values of this book is that Smith shows how western civilizations going back to the fourth century have considered themselves the chosen people of God, and uniquely Christian. Americans are only one of many western societies that have considered themselves Christian, and the British are another.

The British have historically seen themselves as a Christian nation, and sometimes have even seen themselves as the only true Christian people in the world. In the eighteenth century for example, the British considered themselves to be the Christian answer to the Anti-Christ, which was embodied in the French nation. The wars Britain fought with the French in the 1700s were seen by them as an apocalyptic struggle of true Christianity against the forces of the devil and the Anti-Christ of Catholic France. And any nation that styles its monarch as “Defender of the Faith” has a much more explicit claim on being a Christian nation than America ever did.

Still, I’m with Gasaway on remaining open to questioning the propriety of classifying any nation as Christian. What is a Christian nation, anyway? I deal with the ambiguity of the term “Christian nation” extensively in One Nation Under God. Defining precisely what a Christian nation looks like is a thorny path indeed, and I have never found anyone who has met with success in the endeavor.

John Fea Writes on His Visit to Darrington

John Fea speaking at North Oaks Baptist Church

It was a huge honor to host John Fea of Messiah College to Houston this past weekend. I had a wealth of time to spend in conversation with John while he was here. We also had the privilege of having John over to our house for dinner. My girls had their opportunity to “show off” while John (who also is father to two girls) enthusiastically and sincerely played along! John also gave me great advice on how I am approaching American exceptionalism for my second book.

Last Friday, John spoke to the inmate students at the Southwestern Seminary Darrington Unit extension. He writes about his experiences on his blog here. His presentation was excellent, and the students were deeply engaged. The students were thrilled by his visit, and treated him like royalty.

John also spoke to the congregation at North Oaks Baptist Church. Here, he gave another great presentation, and the folks presented him with good questions and very nice feedback. We sold about fifty copies of Was America Founded, and John gave a book signing.

Thank you, John, so much for coming. You have been a wonderful mentor to me, and a good friend.

John Fea to Speak in Houston

Summer is supposed to offer a bit of a break for teachers and professors, but this summer has been quite busy for us here in Houston, Texas. After leading a short men’s retreat (21 mile hike in the Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness in 11 hours) and preaching at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville, VA, and attending Acton University in Grand Rapids, MI, I am looking forward to welcoming John Fea to Houston. He will be speaking to the students at the SWBTS Extension at the Darrington Unit on his book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation. He will also be presenting at North Oaks Baptist Church, where he will also be signing books. If you are in the Houston area June 29, you should plan on attending the event at North Oaks from 9-12:00.

If you’d like to hear Dr. Fea’s presentation at the Darrington SWBTS Extension, you’ll have to make arrangements for an extended stay at Darrington. That involves profound complications. I recommend you come see and hear him at North Oaks!

The Barton Effect

A couple of weeks ago, I and a colleague from SWBTS went to hear a presentation from David Barton. John Fea asked me to comment on the event, and he graciously posted my thoughts on his blog over at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. Here is what I wrote:

Last night, David Barton appeared at the First Baptist Church of Brazoria, TX (south of Houston) to make his presentation on America’s Christian heritage.
 
My interest in Barton comes from my having critiqued his, and other works on the Christian America thesis, so I was definitely anxious to hear him. I knew the church would be packed out, so I made sure I got there early. Of course, no self-respecting Baptist ever sits on the front row no matter how crammed the place is, so the best seats in the house smoothly beckoned me.
 
Right at 7 p.m., the MC representing the local Baptist association hosting the event, stood up to the pulpit and led us in the recitation of the pledge to the US flag. (Don’t get me started on pledging the flag in church). Then, he gave the introduction of Barton, “America’s Historian” according to “a major media news outlet” and “one of Time’s 25 Most Influential Evangelicals.” Barton ascended the dais, and immediately he was off.
 
Say what you want about Barton, he is a walking encyclopedia. He can rattle of names, places, dates, and block quotes with the best of them. He also had in his repertoire a host of obscure anecdotes that failed not to delight his audience. He was certainly an engaging speaker. I could not help but hang on to every word. He was witty and could also be in deadly earnest. He had the 300 or so people present in the palm of his hand from the first five minutes of his presentation for two hours. As a teacher and a preacher, I must say he has a gift that I lack.
 
But being there was less like listening to a historian present on some topic on the early republic and more like being at a magic show. Barton is really more like a Christian illusionist than a historical thinker and teacher. When you go to a magic show, you see the illusionist manipulate the props in order to dazzle you with effects that at face value, look impossible but are undeniable. Barton is like that. His props were a collection of raw historical data that he artfully and eloquently presented to the audience. Then, just like an illusionist does, he manipulated that data, compelling the audience to intuitively come to the conclusion that America was and is specially chosen by God to be a Christian nation.
 
Barton’s use of the raw data was ironically, but predictably, shoddy. He got a lot right. But there were several annoying, bugaboo errors throughout his presentation. No one of them was fatal to his credibility, but taken together, they undermined him considerably. Black preacher Rev. Richard Allen did not, in fact, serve as the lone pastor of a 2000 member white church in Philadelphia. Woodrow Wilson was not the first writer of history to present American society as divided along racial lines based on fear, hate, and social Darwinism. The first Bible printed in America was not produced by the US Congress. The United States had not consistently stood up for the religiously oppressed of the world until fifty or so years ago. Frederick Douglass was not a promoter of American exceptionalism. The Constitution does not find its source in Scripture. The Second Great Awakening was not an eighty year period of pure Christian awakening resulting in a general state of godliness. America has never, before or after Abington v Schempp (1963), been a paragon of biblical righteousness. But these kinds of errors are common in Barton’s writings, and are to be expected.
 
The really disturbing aspect of the presentation is that Barton is a manipulator of Christian folks who sincerely love their country. He goes in front of Bible believing people who, for the most part, do not spend all their time thinking about the American founding but who do want to believe that America’s heritage is exclusively Protestant. He goes with data mined from the historical record that will suit his particular cultural agenda. He presents that data with no explanation of context. He gives no credit to any other sources that are not explicitly evangelical.
 
And he implies that anyone who might arrive at any different conclusion than his falls into one of two categories—either she is one of those who believe that “all the founders were deists” or she is of the group that thinks that “the founders were enemies of Christ.”
 
Barton has a smugness about him that is strange and off-putting in the church setting. In Barton’s world, there are three types of people: first, there are those who think they know the founders better than they knew themselves. These are the scholars, the PhDs who reject Barton’s thesis. He is sarcastically disdainful of them. Second are those plain people who, by Barton’s lights, have not a clue about the Source of our founding ideas. And he pities these. But for Barton, the common factor that joins these groups together is that, “they just don’t know their history” or “their Bibles.”
 
Then, there’s Barton. He knows everything. And he just comes to the simple conclusion, from the founders’ own words, that America is a chosen nation of God in Christ.
 
But Barton is the one who doesn’t know his history, or his Bible. If he were a student presenter in one of my classes, I would dock him severely based on his historical and theological errors alone. He said that “revival cannot happen in a climate hostile to God” but he must not know that the salient periods of Christian growth have always come through persecution. He irrationally denies that his conclusion leads him where he cannot go—to the establishment of Christianity in America. He doesn’t seem to appreciate the difference between special grace and common grace—special grace being limited to things pertaining to salvation, and common grace being bestowed on the “just and the unjust alike.” This leads him to dangerously conflate America with salvation by grace through faith in Christ.
 
Sure, he has a host of facts from the Bible and from the past at his fingertips. He can sure dazzle an audience with his effortless use of them. But he forces those facts, errors and all, into what becomes a bulging, bulky, gawdy package labeled, “Christian America.” 

And the audience loved it.

Something seems wrong about this…

David Barton has produced a new study Bible entitled The Founder’s Bible. It has not yet been released but it is available for pre-order.

Barton bills himself as an historian, and on the front cover of the book, he is labeled as a “signature historian.” I’m not sure what that is exactly. I do know that Barton reads his political agenda into the past. This has the inevitable result of distorting the past and misinforming his audience. His recent book, The Jefferson Lies, is a good example of his presentist interpretation of the past. Go to John Fea’s blog, “The Way of Improvement Leads Home” to read his detailed critiques of this work. You can also get Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter, Getting Jefferson Right, which is a good answer to Barton’s work and historical method.

What I find more distressing, apart from Barton’s presentism, is his use of the Scriptures to forward his politico-historical ideology. With all due respect to Barton, the world simply does not need yet another study “Bible” that is aimed at a particular audience and topic that really have nothing to do with the central message of the Scriptures.

The subject of the Scriptures is Jesus Christ, and His work making atonement for human sin. The message of the Scriptures is the gospel of God revealed progressively through His people Israel, and thence through His Son, who Himself is the Word.

The relationship of the Bible to the founding of the United States is an interesting, edifying, and relevant issue. But to cast that issue as the focus of the message of the Bible is unconscionable. I have not seen Barton’s Bible, but what he is doing may even be fairly called prostituting the Bible out for his own ideological hobby-horse agenda.

The production of Barton’s Bible points to another deep problem for evangelical Christians. That is, their view of Scriptures as reflected in the number of “study Bibles” that have become available in the past several years. One list of study Bibles contains 183 titles, such as the American Patriots Bible, the Men of Color study Bible, the College study Bible, the Holy Spirit Encounter study Bible–and the list goes on.

I realize that the purpose of producing study Bibles that are geared to specifics topics, audiences, and agendas can make the Bible seem more relevant and attractive to folks who may not otherwise read the Bible. But something definitely does not seem right here. Why is the message of the Bible itself not a sufficient witness to the truth claims that are made within its pages?

Barton is next up in a long line of writers and publishers who feel the need to spruce up the Bible by framing it consistent with a particular agenda. I’m sure it will fly off the shelves. Still, I wonder if this is not an example of being a false prophet, of speaking a word that God has not spoken.

“‘I did not send these prophets,
But they ran.
I did not speak to them,
But they prophesied.
‘But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.'”
Jeremiah 23.21-22

Isn’t this the purpose of God’s word after all?

Kirk Cameron’s Movie, "Monumental"

The movie comes out in theatres tomorrow for one day only, March 30. I will be interested to see it for myself after reading some things about it.

I watched the trailer here, and I think that caution is appropriate when approaching Cameron’s movie. It is predictably overhyped and somewhat cheesey, what with the (annoying) melodramatic electric guitar and drumbeat accompanied by three second scenes that have lots of emotional content but little in the way of meaning. Someone in the trailer makes a reference to the fall of Rome and connects Rome’s fall with contemporary America. We’re on shaky ground when we try to draw connections between Rome and America. One reason Christians in particular should be careful in doing this seems pretty obvious: Rome was an explicitly “Christian nation” when it fell in 476. America is not now, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation.

What also makes me abundantly cautious is that David Barton is called upon in the movie as an expert on America’s Christian heritage. Barton is a self styled “master teacher” of American history, but his writings do not demonstrate a broad understanding of the ideas of the American founding. Here is a well written critique of Barton’s part in the movie. Barton is either ignorant of many historical facts, or something worse. I prefer the explanation that he just doesn’t know better.

Watch the movie if you can, because I”m certain it has some value to it (at least, I hope so). After you watch it, get this book and see what contrasts you might find.