Tonight I did an interview with Jerry Newcombe, the host of a Christian talk radio program in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Newcombe was an associate of the late television preacher and pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian church, D. James Kennedy. The topic, of course, was Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction.
In case you don’t know, Newcombe has written and co-authored several books defending the idea that the United States is a Christian nation. In my book on Christian America I site extensively from the book he co-wrote with Kennedy entitled What If America Were a Christian Nation Again? Newcombe is also the co-author, with Peter Lillback, of the wildly popular (ever since it was endorsed by Glenn Beck), George Washington’s Sacred Fire. This book argues, in over 1000 pages, that Washington was a Christian, not a deist.
Frankly, I was surprised that Newcombe wanted to have me on the show and I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about getting into a possible rhetorical slug-fest over the question I pose in my book. In fact, Newcombe began the interview by saying that he “was not sure he would agree with what this author has to say.” I was prepared for a rough 30 minutes.
In the end, however, I was happy to find out that Newcombe was not in a fighting mood. If he read my book carefully he knows that we have some disagreements about whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation, but there was also a lot about this topic that we could agree upon. And thanks to Newcombe’s questions, the interview ended up focused on these points of agreement.
For example, we agreed that:
- Samuel Adams was an evangelical Christian
- John Witherspoon was a Christian who was an important player in the coming of the Revolution
- That we would be hard-pressed to call most of the founders deists
- That Benjamin Franklin asked for prayer during the Constitutional Convention
- That many in England understood the American Revolution as a “Presbyterian rebellion.” (This is the subject of a future book I am working on).
There is a lot more to the question of whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation than the aforementioned points of agreement, but it was an enjoyable interview nonetheless. In fact, it was a breath of fresh air after the interview I did last night with a conservative talk-show host who would not let me complete a sentence.
Jonathan Rowe says
I'd like to hear both interviews if the mp3s are available.
John Fea says
Jon: I don't think either them are available. Thanks for your interest.