The Civil War as a Theological Crisis / Edition 1

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Overview

Viewing the Civil War as a major turning point in American religious thought, Mark A. Noll examines writings about slavery and race from Americans both white and black, northern and southern, and includes commentary from Protestants and Catholics in Europe and Canada. Though the Christians on all sides agreed that the Bible was authoritative, their interpretations of slavery in Scripture led to a full-blown theological crisis.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mark Noll has for several decades been leading an effort to take seriously the religious and theological complexities of America's antebellum and Civil War experience. This concise book . . . both summarizes this scholarship and, in several important respects, advances the conversation."—The Journal of Religion

"[A] well-written and insightful work. . . . Noll makes every word count."—BYU Studies

"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

"The best account and interpretation of how Christian ideas shaped, and were shaped by, the Civil War."—Christianity Today

"Raises momentous questions for the history of American Christianity while offering . . . intriguing insights into an understudied aspect of our nation's greatest civil ordeal."—Books & Culture

"Bound to spark major revisionist studies and challenge young scholars to explore its provocative and convincing theses. . . . [A] masterful analysis of Civil War-era religion."—American Historical Review

"A distinctive piece of Civil War scholarship. . . . This slim set of lectures greatly enhances the study of religion's role in the American Civil War and the study of Christian intellectual life during a crucial period of U.S. history. Scholars in both f

"[Noll] grapples convincingly with one of the oldest arguments among theologians: their interpretation of what the Bible has to say about slavery."—Black Issues Book Review

"Intriguing. . . . Both those who pray for an Evangelical majority in America and those who fear the rise of the religious right will find something of importance in this book."—The Common Review

"By one of the premier historians of American religion. . . . It quotes and cites . . . voices on all sides of the issues."—Touchstone

"The book's particular force derives from its broad perspective. . . . More pathbreaking still is his delving into foreign critiques."—Civil War History

"Readers will appreciate Noll's extensive command of the literature relating to his subject. . . . Noll's book adds yet another important commentary to the war that still intrigues Americans."—North Carolina Historical Review

"Displays the care and moral seriousness historians have come to associate with Noll's work. . . . Of unusual interest."—Journal of Illinois History

Publishers Weekly
In an informative account of the theological dramas that underpinned and were unleashed by the Civil War, Noll (America's God) argues that mid-19th-century America harbored "a significant theological crisis." Quite simply, ministers disagreed about how to read the Bible-and as much as it was a result of fierce disagreements about slavery or Union, Noll says, the Civil War was a crisis over biblical interpretation. The Bible's apparent acceptance of slavery led Christians into bitter debates, with Southern proslavery theologians detailing an elaborate defense of the "peculiar institution" and Northern antislavery clerics arguing that the slavery found in the Old Testament bore no resemblance to the chattel slavery of Southern plantations. Noll detours, for several chapters, to Europe, analyzing what Christians there had to say about America's sectional and scriptural debates. He suggests that religious upheaval did not evaporate at Appomattox. In the postbellum years, Americans grappled with two great problems of "practical theology": racism, and the convulsions of capitalism. This book's substantive analysis belies its brevity. As today's church debates over homosexuality reveal a new set of disagreements about how to read the Bible, this slim work of history is surprisingly timely. (Apr. 24) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mark A. Noll is McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. He is author or editor of 35 books, including the award-winning America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln.

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