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The Civil War as a Theological Crisis [Hardcover]

By Mark A. Noll (Author)
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Item description for The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark A. Noll...

Overview
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.

Publishers Description
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.

From The Book Jacket
Prominent theologian Noll considers the Civil War as a major turning point in American religious thought, as both Northerners and Southerners generally agreed on the authority of the Bible but disagreed about what it taught about slavery. He also surveys the observations of foreign Protestants and Catholics, who saw clearly that regardless of how much voluntary reliance on scriptural authority had contributed to the construction of national civilization, if there were no higher religious authority than the personal interpretation of scripture, public deadlock over conflicting interpretations would amount to a full-blown theological crisis. Prominent theologian Noll considers the Civil War as a major turning point in American religious thought, as both Northerners and Southerners generally agreed on the authority of the Bible but disagreed about what it taught about slavery. He also surveys the observations of foreign Protestants and Catholics, who saw clearly that regardless of how much voluntary reliance on scriptural authority had contributed to the construction of national civilization, if there were no higher religious authority than the personal interpretation of scripture, public deadlock over conflicting interpretations would amount to a full-blown theological crisis.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark A. Noll has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Publishers Weekly - 02/27/2006 page 57
  • Christian Century - 05/30/2006 page 34
  • Christianity Today - 08/01/2006 page 66
  • Commonweal - 10/06/2006 page 28
  • Choice - 11/01/2006 page 498
  • Christianity Today - 10/01/2007 page 107
  • Books & Culture - 03/01/2008 page 45


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Item Specifications...


Studio: The University of North Carolina Press
Pages   199
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.74" Width: 5.8" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   0.86 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 24, 2006
Publisher   The University of North Carolina Press
ISBN  0807830127  
ISBN13  9780807830123  


Availability  0 units.


More About Mark A. Noll


Mark A. Noll Mark A. Noll (born 1946) is a historian specializing in the history of Christianity in the United States. He holds the position of Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Noll himself is a Reformed evangelical Christian, and in 2005 was named by Time Magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America.

Noll is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois (B.A, English), the University of Iowa (M.A., English), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A., Church History and Theology), and Vanderbilt University (Ph.D, History of Christianity). Before coming to Notre Dame he was on the faculty at Wheaton College, Illinois for twenty-seven years, where he taught in the departments of History and Theology as McManis Professor of Christian Thought. While at Wheaton, Noll also co-founded (with Nathan Hatch) and directed the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.

Noll is a prolific author and many of his books have earned considerable acclaim within the academic community. In particular, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, a book about anti-intellectual tendencies within the American evangelical movement, was widely covered in both religious and secular publications. He was awarded a National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office by President George W. Bush in 2006.

Noll, along with other historians such as George Marsden, Nathan O. Hatch, and David Bebbington, has greatly contributed to the world's understanding of evangelical convictions and attitudes, past and present. He has caused many scholars and lay people to realize more deeply the complications inherent in the question, "Is America a Christian nation?" In 1994, he co-signed Evangelicals and Catholics Together, an ecumenical document that expressed the need for greater cooperation between Evangelical and Catholic leaders in the United States.

Since the Fall of 2006, Noll has been a faculty member in Department of History at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He replaced the retiring George Marsden as Notre Dame's Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History.Noll stated that the move to Notre Dame has allowed him to concentrate on fewer subjects than his duties at Wheaton had allowed.

Mark A. Noll currently resides in the state of Illinois. Mark A. Noll was born in 1946.

Mark A. Noll has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies
  2. History of Evangelicalism
  3. IVP Classics
  4. Library of Religious Biography
  5. Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era
  6. Very Short Introductions


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity



Reviews - What do customers think about The Civil War as a Theological Crisis?

A disturbing examination of the church's failure  May 9, 2008
Noll has done a splendid job identifying the theological considerations that neutralized the ability of Christians to help the nation avoid the recourse to arms to settle the slavery question. His examination of how various Christian leaders, north and south, viewed divine providence is enough to make anyone uncomfortable with a self-assured approach to understanding the ways of God. His inclusion of European theological perspectives on slavery and the American scene are an added treat. This is a fine book.
 
"an unbridgeable chasm of opinion"  Nov 9, 2007
This is the book that every Protestant evangelical who invokes "the sole authority of Scripture," and who insists upon the "simplicity," "plain meaning," and "clarity" of its message, should read. I wish a similar monograph had existed when I was in seminary, and that my professors had made me read it as a case study in hermeneutics (the study of the interpretation of Scripture). Why instead of unanimity was there an "interpretive standoff" regarding slavery among Protestant believers, an "unbridgeable chasm of opinion" that tore the nation in two? Why was the evil of slavery eradicated not by the theological arguments of Christians but by the military might of armies? How can you argue against slavery when both the Old Testament and New Testament condone it?

Mark Noll, for over twenty-five years a professor at Wheaton College and now at Notre Dame, examines a broad diversity of religious viewpoints-- mainly American Protestant, but also foreign Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic (both American and foreign) -- about the theological crisis provoked by slavery. This was a question partly about what the Bible said (how to interpret the Bible), and partly about what God was doing in history (providence). Disagreements about what the Bible said about slavery, Noll demonstrates, were deeply influenced by American assumptions about common sense rationalism, economic individualism, race, gender, and political democracy (which is why his two chapters on Protestant and Catholic opinions abroad are so helpful). Even worse, the far deeper issue of racism was barely broached; people separated "the slavery question" and "the negro question." No one in their wildest imagination considered the enslavement of whites (as in OT and NT times), even if they thought it acceptable to enslave blacks, and so even though the war abolished slavery, horrific racism and its evil twin economic disenfranchisement continued unabated. Finally, interpreting the ancient text and applying it to our contemporary context was further complicated by the Protestant insistence that there's no authority above the Bible itself, which was another way of saying that everyone and no one had the ultimate authority to say definitively "what the Bible means" about slavery.

It's a short step from Noll's theological case study about slavery to virtually every other important issue that Christians face--women's ordination, homosexuality, abortion, politics, economics, and race. The Scriptures, said the Westminster divines, are "most necessary" for Christian faith and life, and every believer ought to study them often and well. But as Noll shows, earnest appeals to the authority of Scripture, however necessary and well-intentioned, are the beginning and not the end of the serious work of studying the Bible and then living according to the letter and spirit of its message.
 
Noll does it again...  Oct 22, 2007
Great stuff, I don't have the time to review this, because I'm writting for a Phd and using several of Noll's books. This one (for me) is valuable because it sets the scene for American Evangelicalism up to the period/person I'm working on...as do other's of Noll's works.
 
An important contribution to historical scholarship on the Civil War  Sep 29, 2007
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.
 
must read book from a must read author  Jun 8, 2007
M. Noll simply is one of the best writers i am currently enamored with, both for his research ability, his writing clarity but most importantly the topics and ideas he writes about. I really could do no better than to return the mountain of partially read library books on my desk, just buy everything he wrote and read it in chronological order. He is that good, important and significant.

I've had an interest, inherited from my mom, concerning the American Civil War. Not so much the battles but the meaning of it all. Not the generals but the theologians of the war, why do men fight? why do they kill brothers? why is there such passion about this most UnCivil War? Since i spent a year working on and delivering a Sunday School class on the History of American Presbyterianism i have been aware of the overarching significance of the Civil War in the history of ideas. It marks the end of one world and the birth of another, the one we live in now. And M. Noll and this short book go a long ways towards filling in some of the blank spots and questions i have about it.

in several important ways it is a continuation of:
chapter 18 "The 'Bible Alone' and a Reformed, Literal Hermeneutic", and
chapter 19 "The Bible and Slavery"
from his _America's God_

there is more both historical and theological work to be done on the issues. as a reviewer wrote earlier the issue at heart is the perspicuity of Scripture.
 

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