Item description for This Rebellious House: American History and the Truth of Christianity by Steven J. Keillor...
Overview Today Christianity is challenged on a historical basis as well as being debated on a philosophical and metaphysical level. Relying on essential Christian assumptions and on the best of contemporary historical scholarship, historian Steven J. Keillor refutes the challenges against Christianity with provocative, compelling, and ribustly pro-Christian readings of events in U.S. history.
Publishers Description There was a day when the plausibility of Christianity was debated on a philosophical and metaphysical basis: Does God exist? Can a good God create and sustain a world marred by evil? Can peoples in all times and places take seriously the very particular claims made by and for Jesus Christ? Today Christianity is often challenged not from philosophy or metaphysics but from history. Rather than attack the supposed proofs of God's existence, skeptics of all sorts (college professors, journalists, members of ethnic minority groups, women, and especially Generation Xers) are more likely to point to slavery, patriarchalism, mistreatment of Native Americans and other historical examples of Christian oppression as evidence that Christianity is either misguided or untrustworthy. These revisionist views of U.S. history, most prominently developed in the proposed National Standards for United States History, have recently captured the attention of the wider American public via reports on Nightline and in the pages of Time and several national newspapers. In This Rebellious House historian Steven Keillor meets the new challenges head-on. Examining events in the United States from Columbus to Clinton, he first disabuses us of the notion that our nation has ever been a genuinely "Christian" one. Then he focuses in turn on various political, economic and cultural policies or events (the Civil War, westward expansion) that are now often cited to "disprove" or "debunk" Christianity. Relying on essential Christian assumptions and on the best of contemporary historical scholarship, he refutes each of these challenges with a provocative, compelling and robustly pro-Christian reading of U.S. history. Here is a significant new resource for historians, students, Christians and all citizens of conscience caught in the crossfire of our nation's current culture wars.
Citations And Professional Reviews This Rebellious House: American History and the Truth of Christianity by Steven J. Keillor has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Booklist - 10/01/1996 page 301
Library Journal - 10/15/1996 page 64
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Studio: InterVarsity Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.03" Width: 6.07" Height: 1.06" Weight: 1.19 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 2000
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
Edition Print on Demand
ISBN 0830818774 ISBN13 9780830818778
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More About Steven J. Keillor
Steven J. Keillor (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is an independent historian and was previously an assistant professor at Iowa State University. He has published several scholarly books in American history and political biography including Grand Excursion: Antebellum America Discovers the Upper Mississippi, Erik Ramstad and the Empire Builder and This Rebellious House: American History & the Truth of Christianity. He has edited a Civil War memoirNo More Gallant a Deed and written a book of essays and poems, Prisoners of Hope: Sundry Sunday Essays (Regent College Press). He writes in a log cabin in Minnesota.
Steven J. Keillor currently resides in the state of Minnesota.
Reviews - What do customers think about This Rebellious House?
Great Book, but tainted with anti-capitalism Apr 12, 2000
The stated purpose of this book is to demonstrate that the moral failures of American history (e.g. slavery, patriarchalism, mistreatment of Native Americans and others) were due not to Christianity, but to rebellion against it. This demonstation is necessary, in the author's view, since these moral failures are increasingly being cited by those who would like to question God's existence or at least marginalize Christianity.
While the author succeeds in making this point, he also mistakenly identifies capitalism (he applies modifiers; male, individualist, consumerist) as the primary enemy of Christianity. In demonizing capitalism in this way, he misses the following facts:
1) Capitalism is, after all, merely the system that results when people have economic freedom (and not "the embodiment of male rebellion against God", as he claims) 2) Not all free people choose the bad and wrong 3) Freedom (of all types, including economic) is necessary to cultivate the good and right.
In short, Keillor allowed his anti-capitalist bias to cloud his otherwise insightful analysis. He lost sight of the fact that capitalism, like freedom generally, may be used for good or evil purposes, depending on the motives of those who possess it. Paraphrasing the NRA slogan; freedom doesn't cause evil, people cause evil.
Not Your Typical Evangelical Telling of History! Oct 8, 1998
This work is meant to debunk the movement of revisionist historians toward laying the atrocities of American history at the feet of Christianity. However, it performs a remarkable feat of thinking by not only attacking revisionism but also going against many of the presuppositions of current evangelical thought. Keillor contends that history needs to be viewed in terms of Christian eschatology (the study of the end times) in order to have a purely "Christian" view of history. This leads to fresh interpretations on such events as the Columbian Encounter, inital American forays into foreign policy at the turn of the 20th century, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. At the same time he shows how amoral capitalism has aided in the downfall of American society; a slide that is resemblant to the late Francis A. Schaffer's "line of dispair", which was first proposed in Escape From Reason. Keillor's main weakness is that he does not utilize the Bible in explaining points in his historical arguments, which is obviously his basis as he is an evangelical christian. The use of Scripture would have been helpful in explaining such arguments as his arguing against patriarchalism, feminism, and some of his finer points against capitalism. It would also give his arguments a point of reference for evangelical readers. Overall, this is still an excellent and fresh reading of American history. There is no assumption that the USA was ever a "Christian nation," nor is there any assumption that the current state of affairs in the Religious Right is necessarily correct. Indeed he takes the Religious Right to task for collaborating with amoral capitalists for political gains, and for making political compromises that need not be made. To come to conclusions that differ both from the revisionists and from evangelicals is no small feat of thinking. Indeed it is rather courageous. It will be interesting to see how this work shapes Christian scholarship in the next 20 years.
This book was had some good thoughts. Aug 23, 1998
Although Keillor documented well all he said, I was saddened to see that practically all his documentation was from the revisionists and there was virtually no primary source documentation. He made some good points which definitely should be thought provoking and yet I think he was too hard on the men in this nation's past. From Keillor's interpretation I was left with the impression that he believes that very few of the nation's historical figures were truly Christians. It seemed as though he were trying to let Christianity "off the hook" by stating such things saying to us "see that was un-Christian like behavior, so obviously that person wasn't a Christian." He then slams those people. Rather, he misses the point that Christians are people too and that they make mistakes as well and need forgiveness and accountability for their mistakes. He interprets every event in the past by a very 20th century mindset of what we believe to be right and wrong today must be the same for all of history and that simply is not the case. Sadly, Keillor did not balance his view of history with this modern reflection as compared to the historical character's first-hand account of the event. He does a good job of smashing the pedastal of the founding fathers, taking them off the list of "gods", but then goes to far and smashes their humanity and religious convictions as well. If you want to read another revisionist interpretation of American history with a slightly christian twist then read this book.
A Fresh Look at America's History Dec 27, 1997
This is a refreshingly independent-minded look at America's cultural history, simultaneously refuting the fundamentalist idea that America is a "Christian nation" and the claim that the offenses committed by its founders mean that God, if He exists, is a poor character. Mr. Keillor does not write in order to pander to any reader's biases, but in order to stimulate his readers' thinking. A wonderful antidote to most historical writings on America's cultural history.