By Henry Brinton, pastor of the Fairfax (VA) Presbyterian Church:
Political commentator Glenn Beck has devoted a great deal of television time to his exploration of America’s Christian heritage. In 2010, he had an entire program on George Whitefield, the 18th century evangelical revivalist. When his conversation with two religious historians turned to slavery, Beck began to wonder how Whitefield could be a source of inspiration for anti-slavery advocates in England and at the same time be an owner of slaves. Perplexed by this paradox, Beck had to admit, “Sometimes history is a little complex.”
John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., is a much better historian than Glenn Beck, but he tells this story about the political commentator because, in this case, Beck is absolutely right. History is certainly complex, particularly when the topic is the question in the title of Fea’s book, “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?” Fea has written an excellent introductory text for students, pastors, church members and others who are interested in exploring American history and its relationship to Christianity. He does not provide a yes or no answer to the question in his title, but does a masterful job of exploring the ways that America was — and was not — founded as a Christian nation.
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