Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Steven K. Green, Next Notable Book in Christian Nation Debate

Steven K. Green from Willamette University College of Law has written what could be the next notable book in the "Christian Nation" debate. It's entitled "Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding" and is published by Oxford University Press (2015).

In the first link one can find a collection of Dr. Green's law review articles. This one entitled  "Understanding the 'Christian Nation' Myth" seems aptest to the book. A taste from the article:
The general consensus among historians today is that the members of the founding generation relied on multiple ideological sources when they were developing their arguments for revolution, republicanism, and constitutional government. Overall, the Founders were well-educated and well-read for their time; they engulfed histories and theoretical works about classical and medieval republics, the common law, the English Civil War, and the Glorious Revolution. They drew their inspiration about the necessities and forms of republicanism chiefly from Enlightenment and Whig theorists of the preceding generations: John Locke, Baron Montesquieu, Hugo Grotius, Henry St. John Lord Bolingbroke, and James Burgh, among others. Also influential were those writers of the so-called Scottish Enlightenment— Frances Hutcheson, David Hume, and Thomas Reid—whose “common sense” rationalism influenced many of the Founders including James Madison, John Adams, and James Wilson. Most of these writers were religious nonconformists or skeptics who sought to disassociate the legitimacy for government from religious authority. In his influential Letter on Toleration , Locke wrote that “the whole power of civil government is concerned only with men’s civil goods, is confined to the care of the things of this world, and has nothing whatever to do with the world to come.” 16 Because the “care of souls” was not the business of government, “the civil power ought not to prescribe articles of faith, or doctrines, or forms of worshipping God, by civil law.” 17 Such words were groundbreaking, in that they implied a commonwealth unconcerned with religious fealty or the maintenance of public virtue. Most scholars acknowledge the commanding influence of Locke and other Enlightenment and Whig thinkers on the founding generation. 18

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