Two historians tell why Christian thought went AWOL during the civil war.Here is a book review of two treatments of the role of theological thought in the years leading up and during the Civil War. Mark Noll is known to me, as I have read two of his books, but Harry Stout is not familiar to me. I look forward to reading both books, as they bring together two loves of mine: Theology and Civil War history.
Reviewed by Elesha Coffman | posted 08/17/2006 09:30 a.m.
"Historians have a formidable task when they try to explain why something happened. The task becomes even harder when they ask why something did not happen. Undaunted, Mark Noll and Harry Stout take this more difficult tack in their new books on the Civil War: Why did American Christians not think more deeply or act more ethically as the country faced bloody sectional conflict?
This type of history first requires demonstrating that the non-event could and should have occurred. Both authors identify moral voices crying in the wilderness—Abraham Lincoln (though he could be hard-hearted as well as humble), a few circumspect pastors and journalists, even Union Gen. George McClellan (Stout does not ascribe his infamous reticence to incompetence but to observance of the rules of limited war). Noll also brings in the never before studied perspectives of Europeans, Catholic and Protestant, who more clearly saw the flaws in American thinking about slavery, warfare, theology, and biblical interpretation. Stout cites the centuries-old Christian tradition of just-war theory. ..."
Having read a number of histories and biographies relating to the Civil War, it has become obvious to me that what I learned in school was not necessarily the way it was. But this review by Elesha Coffman indicates that there is much more to learn and understand about this tragic episode in our history.
The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era)
by Mark A. Noll
Upon the Altar of the Nation : A Moral History of the Civil War
By Harry S. Stout
Technorati tags: civil war, religion