Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dreisbach Reviews Frazer

Daniel Dreisbach reviews Gregg Frazer's book in the Journal of American Studies. Read it here. A taste:
Frazer's thesis is not new. Other scholars have expressed a need for a more nuanced accounting for the religious beliefs of the founders than simply a bimodal taxonomy of Christianity and deism, especially one that recognizes a hybrid system that drew on both Christianity and Enlightenment rationalism. Frazer acknowledges that scholars before him have coined and defined a variety of terms intended to describe this middle ground between orthodox Christianity and deism, using terms like providential deism, Enlightened Christianity, theological rationalism, Christian rationalism, and rationalist Christianity. Frazer provides a sophisticated description of theistic rationalism and argues that other terms fail to capture adequately the belief system of the major founders. 
Frazer gives little allowance that the influential founders were anything other than theistic rationalists. He is dismissive of evidence or interpretations that challenge his thesis. Neglected in the study, for example, is the devout Congregationalist Roger Sherman, who by most measures deserves to be studied alongside the consequential founders that Frazer does profile. ...

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