Karen!'s Reviews > The Civil War as a Theological Crisis

The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark A. Noll
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's review
Aug 11, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in August, 2011

Informative, fascinating, well researched and written, if I was writing a paper, I would be all over this text. As it is, I am still in live with it. The author takes pains to give a full and balanced representation of the state of American theological thought and biblical exegesis as it related to popular opinion and political decision making leading up to and during the Civil War.

Of course each individual Protestant congregation followed the Biblical exegesis and thought process of their individual ministers. It is interesting to note that the stance of slavery as a moral good was taken by Protestant ministers as well as a few rogue Catholic priests leading up to the Civil War. Of course, at this point, these few and far between pro-slavery Catholics were soon persuaded to speak the Church's anti-slavery stance. The text also delves into the theological thought present at the time in other countries. The text later confides that it is primarily with the growth of the Catholic Church through Irish, Polish, and Italian immigrants, that the abolition of slavery becomes a feasible possibility within the changing political (and theological) climate.

It is easy to see correlations between the Evangelical Protestant influence shaping political decisions today, just as it happened in the ninteenth century. Frankly, it is a bit frightening to think of the trouble that such trends could cause today, as a previous result was Civil War.

I also enjoyed the author's tone, leaving the facts and primary resources to speak for themselves, while adding a bit of wit:

"The country and the churches were both in trouble because the remedy that finally solved the question of how to interpret the Bible was recourse to arms. The supreme crisis over the Bible was that there existed no apparent Biblical resolution to the crisis...it was left to those consummate theologians, the Reverend Doctors Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, to decide what in fact the Bible actually meant." (Page 50)

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