The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

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by David L. Holmes
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195300920

ISBN-13: 9780195300925

Pub. Date: 05/01/2006

Publisher: Oxford University Press

It is not uncommon to hear Christians argue that America was founded as a Christian nation. But how true is this claim?
In this compact book, David L. Holmes offers a clear, concise and illuminating look at the spiritual beliefs of our founding fathers. He begins with an informative account of the religious culture of the late colonial era, surveying the

Overview

It is not uncommon to hear Christians argue that America was founded as a Christian nation. But how true is this claim?
In this compact book, David L. Holmes offers a clear, concise and illuminating look at the spiritual beliefs of our founding fathers. He begins with an informative account of the religious culture of the late colonial era, surveying the religious groups in each colony. In particular, he sheds light on the various forms of Deism that flourished in America, highlighting the profound influence this intellectual movement had on the founding generation. Holmes then examines the individual beliefs of a variety of men and women who loom large in our national history. He finds that some, like Martha Washington, Samuel Adams, John Jay, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson's daughters, held orthodox Christian views. But many of the most influential figures, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John and Abigail Adams, Jefferson, James and Dolley Madison, and James Monroe, were believers of a different stripe. Respectful of Christianity, they admired the ethics of Jesus, and believed that religion could play a beneficial role in society. But they tended to deny the divinity of Christ, and a few seem to have been agnostic about the very existence of God. Although the founding fathers were religious men, Holmes shows that it was a faith quite unlike the Christianity of today's evangelicals. Holmes concludes by examining the role of religion in the lives of the presidents since World War II and by reflecting on the evangelical resurgence that helped fuel the reelection of George W. Bush.
An intriguing look at a neglected aspect of our history, the book will appeal to American history buffs as well as to anyone concerned about the role of religion in American culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195300925
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
05/01/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
749,354
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.10(d)

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Faiths of the Founding Fathers 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David Holmes immediately establishes itself as a more scholarly work than Jon Meacham¿s more contemporary fare, The American Gospel. The language, writing style, and historical overview set a confident tone early on with a detailed look at the various churches and religion groups that were scattered around the original Colonies. Holmes guides the reader as if he was giving a religious tour of colonial America. Several pages are devoted to explaining the Anglican traditions in America and one of the most in-depth treatments of Deism I¿ve ever seen in a book. As the title suggests, Holmes focuses intensely on the religious faiths of six principle founding figures: Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. Holmes carefully describes the religious upbringing of each figure, the nature and extent of their church attendance, (even noting which particular churches they attended), as well as key religious opinions or writings they made. Logically, Holmes uses the actual actions and works of the Founders to judge their religion opinions and not merely the associations they kept on paper or in public. Holmes also examines the religion traditions and participating of the Founder¿s wives and families for further clues to the faiths of the Founding Fathers. In a later chapter in the book, Holmes also provides a concise summary of his findings. Finally, Holmes go on to profile modern presidents such as Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II. Holmes's book provides a level of detail to this topic that no other book provides. I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Faiths of the Founding Fathers' by David Holmes is simply the best book that I have read in years. It fully complements works by the famed historians Joseph Ellis and David McCullough. Holmes' book begins by surveying the religious landscape in the mid- and late 18th century. He then takes a closer look at the personal theology of the men most instrumental in the founding of the US: Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, Monroe, etc. What is more, he also writes about their daughters and wives. These short biopics serve to remind us that leading politicians were not merely influenced by wars and rulers and philosophy and literature, but also by their personal religious beliefs. Historians will appreciate Holmes' use of primary source material (eg, Franklin's epitaph) and detailed endnotes. In sum, this book is well-researched, well written, engaging, and comprehensive. I highly recommend it to all reader audiences.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An incredibly fascinating read. This book will certainly catch your attention and hold it. Holmes does a fairly good job explaining the different sects of Christianity at the time of the Revolution. The amount of information he gives about different people and belief systems is somewhat inconsistent, but everything he does provide is presented well. It seems that he is a bit biased-he wants to make the point that the Founders were not heavily influenced by Christianity. This is generally correct, but at times it feels as though he is trying to force it down your throat, rather than present the facts and let the reader decide for himself. All in all though certainly a worthwhile purchase--especially for some of the great quotes he throws in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Faiths of the Founding Fathers has enriched my life. I fancied myself knowledgeable about American history until reading this book. I needed that humbling and enlightening experience. David L. Holmes calmly explains the religious climate of the Founders' age, then he methodically examines the religious leanings of key figures--as well as those of their immediate family members. I can now appreciate the complexity and the evolution of their beliefs as well as the range of religious views held in that distant era. If you want to learn more about the religious inclinations of the Founders, then buy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book should be required reading for every high schooler in the US. Our founding fathers were not die hard trinitarians who shoved transubstantion down the throats of their associates! I never new this, my respect for these men who managed to put the early documents of our country together through cooperation and mutual tolerance has hit new highs! I was also unaware that Catholics were not the majority, or at least one of the main groups. They dominate everything today, to the extent that censureship has returned with the Da Vinci Code, one of a long list of books banned by the Papists starting with Thomas Paynes Common Sense if I remember correctly. So many faiths merged from back then. So many groups changed. This book was truely eye opening. Easy reading and fun, I recommend this book to all of those who want to know the truth in an era of mixed religious views in America. Paul Swanson