Upon the Altar of the Nation & The Civil War as a Theological Crisis

1/20/12

I am currently working on editing this paper and hope to post it soon.

Harry Stout is a professor of history, religious studies, and American studies at Yale University.  In addition, he is the Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Religious History.  He has written a meticulously researched and insightful book, The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England.  I would highly recommend this book.  In addition, he has recently written a provacative book on the morality of the Civil War. Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War avers that neither the North nor the South held the moral high ground in the war.  Instead, both sides plunged into moral misconduct.

Mark Noll is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.  He has written prodigiously on American evangelicalism and is known for such works like The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind and Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind among many others.  In The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, Noll surveys the evangelical mood in America in the antebellum era and discovers two major theological crises that were the foundation of the War: two opposing biblical interpretations of slavery (North and South), and the different understandings of God’s Providence and purposes for America.  Noll looks at both domestic and international religious and theological sources to fact his claims.

This paper is a rather long-winded review of both books and evaluates the role that religion played in the Civil War.  Enjoy!

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