Protestantism, American style

America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. By Mark A. Noll. Oxford University Press, 602 pp., $35.00.

The least-understood period in American religious history has been the era of the American Revolution. Most professors, ministers and laypersons could, of course, readily assemble some facts about religion and the Revolution. We might, for instance, comment that founders like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson leaned toward a tolerant deism, favoring religion that cultivated the moral life of citizens but reproving the seeming incivility of doctrinal debate and exclusivism. We stumble, however, when asked to describe the broad currents of religious energy that were moving people and churches during this period. We lack a narrative.


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