The Civil War as a Theological Crisis The Steven and

The Civil War as a Theological Crisis The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era ❮Download❯ ➾ The Civil War as a Theological Crisis The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era ➹ Author Mark A. Noll – 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 Viewing the Civil War as a major War as PDF Ê 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.

  • Hardcover
  • 199 pages
  • The Civil War as a Theological Crisis The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era
  • Mark A. Noll
  • English
  • 06 March 2014
  • 9780807830123

About the Author: Mark A. Noll

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind a War as PDF Ê book about the anti intellectual tendencies within the American evangelical movement was featured in a cover story in the popular American literary and cultural magazine Atlantic Monthly He was awarded a National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office by President George W Bush in .

10 thoughts on “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era

  1. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    Mark Noll's book argues convincingly that the civil war can be understood not simply as a constitutional crisis but a theological crisis for American Protestants and really for Christianity at large in light of the existence of American Protestantism In fact the constitutional crisis had significant theological roots and we cannot understand the constitutional crisis in absence of this theological context Given that America was a de facto Protestant nation with its firm belief in sola scriptura and individual liberty it was essentially a crisis of Biblical hermeneutics After all for anyone who bothered to look it's clear that the Bible does not explicitly condemn slavery If anything it seems to accept it as a fact of life I think given that Protestant America is in a similar crisis right now with respect to gay rights this is essential reading for those interested in how the Protestant Churches might adapt to the new reality in which their beliefs and practices are not only being called into uestion but explicitly condemned as bigoted and immoral We can see here the clear paths that Protestants will likely travel They can follow certain abolitionists and just reject certain scriptural passages Or they can follow others who rather than rejecting the passages read them in the right spirit Here we can see parallels between distinguishing biblical slavery from american forms of slavery and biblical homosexual practices and same sex marriages Those who cleave to a certain conservative reading of the Bible on sex are uncomfortably close to conservative readers of the Bible on slavery and thus will need to make the case that they are not repeating the same mistakes this will be especially difficult I think given the widespread Protestant embrace of sterile sex among heterosexuals; if sterile sex is fine what so wrong with gay sex again? And they will need to be realistic that the pressure to change that reading will only intensify as time goes on and as a different hermeneutic begins to take hold among Protestants of a different geographic region within the US For Catholics this history is also instructive though less directly applicable Catholicism rejects the individualism of Protestantism and leaves the interpretation of scripture up to the Church's magisterial teaching authority Still this leaves room for debate among Catholics theologians and scriptural scholars and Churchman to render judgment about what the magisterium ought to say This is exactly what is happening in advance of the Synod on the Family More important still is the fact that the Church does not think that morality can be read off from the Bible; the Church has always had that morality is a matter of natural law known through the use of right reason and available to all independent of revelation This is why the Church can allow that we have something important to learn from the likes of Plato and Aristotle And finally the Church has never and likely will never endorse intrinsically sterile sex So she is not susceptible to the same charges of inconsistency and prejudice as Protestants Just as the Church was in a uniue position to critiue Protestant defenses of slavery as Biblically mandated a reading the Church rejected the Church is also in a uniue position to show the internal contradictions within Protestantism that leads to these perpetual cycles of Biblical hermeneutic crisis crises that the Church does not face in the same way given her fidelity to Tradition European Catholics found much to condemn in both the North and the South and they saw clearly the rapacious drive for money and power that drove much of the moralizing rhetoric of the North The Church was always uneasy about the alliance between Protestants unfettered capitalism and liberal democracy as all three presupposed a notion of freedom the Church thoroughly rejected That unease is instructive for those willing to listen to that critiue This is the sort of book that could spawn a thousand interesting dissertations It deserves to be widely read

  2. James Korsmo James Korsmo says:

    The Civil War as a Theological Crisis is The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era delivered at the University of North Carolina and as a book that came out of a series of lectures it has a relatively conversational and approachable tone Mark Noll is an eminent historian of Christianity and specifically evangelicalism in America In these lectures Noll looks at the theological issues which Noll argues in fact constituted a theological crisis that shaped the Civil War and informed the views of politicians and the populace on both sides of the conflict Noll begins by setting the stage with a look at the role of religion in American public life in the years leading up to the War and especially at the role the Bible and its interpretation played He then looks closely at The Crisis over the Bible the differing interpretations of various passages in the Bible especially over the issue of slavery that contributed so profoundly to the theological divide in the country This chapter forms the core of the book as he looks at competing interpretations of the Bible and the methods and assumptions that led to these conflicting interpretations This then leads to a discussion of the negro uestion a look at the role race played in the discussions either implicitly or explicitly He shows that at the root deep seeded racism lay behind many of the defenses of slavery and ignorance of the importance of the race issue weakened many of the opponents' arguments It is crystal clear that the Civil War was a war with race issues at the center though Noll emphasizes eually strongly that the picture is far complex than a simple bifurcation of the country with the North fighting some type of righteous struggle on behalf of euality and the South fighting a bigoted battle to preserve the status uoNoll's discussion then turns to a look at what role providence played in the preaching and thinking about America's destiny and the racism and slavery that were at issue He writes that confidence in the human ability to fathom God's providential actions rose to new heights Many on both side presumed to know God's will and intention in and for America By the end of the war this view was strongly chastened and Noll points to a connection between arguments concerning providence before and during the war and the movement of religion to the private sphere after the war After these substantive discussions Noll takes an informative look at views of Protestants and Catholics abroad and takes stock of these perspectives that give a different view point on the happenings in AmericaI found Noll's book to be compelling and important reading I think his careful appraisal of this important conflict over the role and interpretation of the Bible needs to inform evangelical approaches to Scripture today I think one of the clearest lessons needs to be a chastening of our American and Protestant impulse to read and interpret the Bible on our own without recourse to church or magisterium and often without regard for history Along with this goes a strong warning against assumptions of the simplicity of the Bible's message Throughout the era leading up to and including the Civil War defenses of slavery had an easier time convincing much of the American public often largely because of the simplicity of its arguments and the fact that it drew on plain and surface readings of the Biblical text Readings that opposed slavery often incorporated nuanced and historically couched arguments For many this went against their protestant and American sensibilities and assumptionsIt would seem that this book and this historic situation has much to say to our modern day church and to the evangelical church in particular Issues such as the church's stance on women in ministry or the status of homosexuals can be well informed by this discussion That is certainly not to say that the historic move to condemn slavery should or could be directly applied to the acceptance of women in ministry or the full acceptance of homosexual activity but this careful historical discussion provides some important context in which to judge our approaches to Scripture It also rightly calls us to examine our assumptions that we bring to the Bible I highly recommend it

  3. Christopher Smith Christopher Smith says:

    This book shows how the beliefs and assumptions held by American Christians in 1860 precluded any kind of critical reflection on the Civil War If you've read Nathan Hatch's Democratization of American Christianity this serves as an excellent second installment in the saga Many of the ideals whose development Hatch chronicles played important roles in paving the way for the Civil War ethos This book is also a nice supplement to Harry S Stout's Upon the Altar of the Nation Stout beautifully chronicles Americans' moral ambivalence but doesn't really go into the root causes to the extent that Noll does Nor does Stout explore foreign commentary on the war Noll's exploration of foreign commentary in fact was one of the most fascinating aspects of the book Foreigners seem to have seen fairly clearly what nobody in America could see If you're looking for a rousing or moving narrative this isn't the book for you But if you'd like to understand why American theology was paralyzed in the face of the slavery crisis this little book is ideal That it's a little book is also nice Noll says a whole lot in only about 160 pages

  4. Matthew Richey Matthew Richey says:

    An excellent read that addresses a deficit in our understanding of the Civil War Recommended for students of theology and history alike I was constantly surprised how similar many contemporary theological debates sound in comparison to the arguments of abolitionists versus proponents of slavery

  5. Brian Eshleman Brian Eshleman says:

    Intriguingly even handed Won't just assume that the America of the past was religiously faithful but endeavors to uantify that Won't just assume that the conseuences of that fervor and piety are entirely positive but endeavors to show the firmly held divisions that result Even for readers not obsessed with help biblical interpretation impacted the Civil War this is a good brief read to consider how biblical interpretation impacts the current culture

  6. Jim Cooper Jim Cooper says:

    It seems unthinkable now that so many thousands of Christians thought the Bible justified the enslavement of an entire race of people Noll's book does a great job of explaining how Christians found themselves at that place at the beginning of the Civil WarEssentially the ingredients that made the United States a perfect place for Christianity to thrive removal of ruling hierarchies constitutionally guaranteed freedoms to worship and believe how you want Enlightenment era thinking on individualism etc turned out to be the exact same ingredients reuired to end up with a religious society that turned the Bible into whatever they needed it to be Whatever you already believed on whatever issue you shaped your views on the Bible to fit it instead of the other way aroundUnfortunately American Christians are still guilty of this todayThe I read about the Civil War the I realize it really was fought primarily on one issue slavery But it's tempting to oversimplify it and say half of Americans believed one thing and half believed the other Noll's research shows just how fascinatingly complex the slavery issue actually wasI didn't enjoy the chapters covering foreign Christians' writings on the war as much but it was necessary to get the whole picture An example the Catholic church knew the end of slavery would be a good thing but the way the Protestant American church was getting it there was making them nervous Their arguments for why were really interesting

  7. David David says:

    I've gotten into debates with people about whether the Bible allows for slavery Everyone I have ever argued with has argued that the Bible condemns slavery We are unified as Christians in seeing slavery as a horrific sinYet go back to the era of the Civil War and the mainstream opinion was that the Bible approved of slavery Mark Noll's fantastic book documents this in great detail He shows that the very ideologies that made America what it was such as individualism and democracy led to a way of reading the bible literally that affirmed slavery Southern theologians argued that the Bible supported slavery They went further to argue that abolitionists went down a path that denied the Bible To deny the straightforward and literal reading of the text was to move away from orthodoxy Surprisingly many in the North agreed Northern theologians often came at the Bible with the same presuppositions and thus said the Bible allows slavery The usual tact then was to argue that the form of slavery practiced in the south was far from the slavery allowed for in scripture Thus they allowed for slavery as an institution but attacked the specifics of southern slaveryOverall it is a fantastic book But it is fantastic for making us think about how we read the Bible today then it is for shedding light on how it was read then That is because many who are so uick to say the Bible does not allow slavery are the theological descendants of those who said the Bible did allow slavery And many today read the Bible in the exact same way as those in the 1860s didThe hot button issue of today is gay marriage and I could not help but think of that often The argument for slavery relied on a simple reading picking out the clear proof texts from all over scripture Today the argument against gay marriage also rests on a few proof texts Further back then those who argued the Bible does not allow slavery focused on the spiritual interpretation or the grand narrative of scripture In other words they moved past the words of a few texts to emphasize the principle beneath For this they were accused of straying from orthodoxy Those who defend gay marriage today use the same sort of argumentHow many who argue against gay marriage today shudder to realize how their theological arguments used the same arguments for slavery? At the very least this ought to humble us It ought to make Christians very cautious when entering debate on these sorts of issues I listed this book as church history but perhaps it ought to be reuired reading for those who interpret the Bible As we interpret the Bible we need to keep in mind lessons from those who interpreted it before us to help us steer clear of their same mistakes

  8. Vance Freeman Vance Freeman says:

    Highly recommended history of the pro slavery and anti slavery arguments made by pastors and theologians leading up to and during the The Civil War One of the results of the broad secularization of education in the 20th Century is that we don’t teach the religious underpinnings of the Civil War or other major historical events Both sides understood this conflict as part of a religious narrative But now we only teach this as a legal and economic conflict As a result we don’t get the full picture of history and the white church remains incredibly ignorant of its own history How could white theologians and pastors argue that the Bible supported American slavery while still claiming to be faithful a crucified king who came to “set the captives free?” The answer supported overwhelmingly by the historical evidence is that the church was blinded by the Enlightenment’s philosophy of white supremacy

  9. Ivan Ivan says:

    Essential reading that offers explanatory power for America’s most vexing problem The chapter on the evolving biblical interpretations both for an against slavery is fascinating if also sobering—a reminder that we bring into the text from the culture around us than we’d care to admit Reading books like these rather than spending hours on inane and outrageous social media discourse will actually help deepen our understanding

  10. Dakota Dakota says:

    Chapter threeThe Crisis over the Bibleis the meat of the book In it Noll observes that antebellum protestantism was mostly unified in its interpretation of slavery with some exceptions uakers for example along with a robust confidence in Scripture He explains that Christian values in revolutionary America were appropriated into the national culture to create a uniuely American hermeneutic It was a plain commonsensical approach to reading and applying the Bible Noll uses Thomas Thompson's 1770 concise statement to explain the American hermeneutic simply as open the Bible read it believe it Such an interpretational approach toward Leviticus 25 and 1 Corinthians 721 allowed antebellum ministers to justify slavery while presenting theological obstacles for Christian abolitionists Even the best nuanced exegetical arguments from the abolitionists would never win the day precisely because of its complicated nature Simply put it wasn't a plain reading of the Bible In the American republic spirit a Christian doesn't need a scholarly and theological authority to interpret the Bible for them instead individuals should be able to determine the matter in a straight forward way by reading it for themselvesChristians in antebellum US found themselves in a stalemate with one another The matter could not be solved by the power of the Bible instead it would lead to a costly civil war to settle the crisis for them As Noll ominously puts it It was left to those theologians the Reverend Doctors Ulysses S Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman to decide what the Bible actually meant My oversimplification does not come close to justify this book However it is worth every minute of reading it As Noll argues in the concluding chapter of his book we are still in this theological crisis While the bloody and horrific war forced a theological conclusion on slavery it failed to biblically address racism in America Noll observes that as America became scientific in the north many northerners began to embrace what he calls scientific racism that is blacks are a separate inferior species from whites Thankfully this view is no longer widely held Oddly southerners fought against this science by rightly claiming based on Scripture that both blacks and whites are of one speciesrace However as history tells the evils of racism were strongly entrenched in the American south even still todayProtestant churches in post antebellum America failed to immediately and collectively address this issue mainly due to the fracture national hermeneutic and a lack of confidence in the authority of the Bible The Bible since the American Civil War has slowly lost its prominence and confidence to settle national issues of practical social political and economic nature Instead of the Bible as the source for moral change and growth the law and authority of the federal government has become the primary authority on all matters Perhaps this is a reason why modern Americans are looking toward the 2020 elections with great anxiety For them the 2020 election will be a defining moment in what direction the country will take morally Today American protestants are divided concerning major theological and practical issues such as abortion marriage women's ordination economics environment race etc Noll has convinced me that this theological division within American Christianity partly finds its roots in the Civil War Some take away thoughts from further reflection on this bookIt is a temptation for modern Christians in American to look at the past with a certain hubris toward antebellum southern Christians concerning slavery and race While in no way were they justified in their moral or biblical support for American raced based slavery their sins should humble us modern day Christians No matter the century Christians are not above being collectively blind and deaf toward corporate sins or erroneous interpretations We should also remember the eighth commandment concerning Christians of the past We shouldn't justify their sins but forgive them and speak truthfully of them even if they are asleep in the LordWhat are we blind to today?Noll's book was a difficult read for one who values his southern heritage It is humbling to think that an entire generation and nation could commit such sins However this shouldn't be a surprise to a Christian see the entire Old TestamentOn a salutary note if we take southern men like Lee and Stonewall at their confession that they are Christian then we can rejoice in knowing that antebellum Christian southerners white or black are in perfect reconciliation in the Lord To the point with the eighth commandment in mind I think Christian men like Stonewall and his once enslaved fellow Christians are perfectly reconciled in Christ This should give us hope for our deeply polarized times However the main take away is that Christians in America have a long and arduous road ahead of them in the 21st century How will they approach and address racism? Individualistically or corporately? In what ways has modern American culture seeped into interpreting the Bible and thinking theologically? These uestions and remain to be answered and for history to recordAs I said Noll's book is worth every page

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