The Civil War as a Theological Crisis
Mark A. Noll
Narrated by Marc Cashman
Approximately 6 hours
Book published by University of North Carolina Press
The Civil War was a major turning point in American religious thought, argues Mark A. Noll. Although Christian believers agreed with one another that the Bible was authoritative and that it should be interpreted through commonsense principles, there was rampant disagreement about what Scripture taught about slavery. Furthermore, most Americans continued to believe that God ruled over the affairs of people and nations, but they were radically divided in their interpretations of what God was doing in and through the war.
In addition to examining what white and black Americans wrote about slavery and race, Noll surveys commentary from foreign observers. Protestants and Catholics in Europe and Canada saw clearly that no matter how much the voluntary reliance on scriptural authority had contributed to the construction of national civilization, if there were no higher religious authority than personal interpretation regarding an issue as contentious as slavery, the resulting public deadlock would amount to a full-blown theological crisis. By highlighting this theological conflict, Noll adds to our understanding of not only the origins but also the intensity of the Civil War.
Mark A. Noll is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. His books include The Civil War as a Theological Crisis; America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln; and The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.
Marc Cashman (narrator) has narrated dozens of audiobooks for major companies and is the winner of multiple Earphones Awards (AudioFile).
“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. ”
“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 fields will profit especially from its pioneering research into Christian Europe's varied reactions to the American Iliad and its causes. Advanced students and discerning general readers will appreciate the book's lively prose and its suggestive conclusions. ”
—Civil War Book Review
“[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
“The best account and interpretation of how Christian ideas shaped, and were shaped by, the Civil War. ”
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