Historians Mark Noll and George Marsden sit down with Skot Welch (of Compass Cinema at Calvin College) for a half-hour conversation on whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

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11 thoughts on “An Interview with Marsden and Noll on the Idea of America as a Christian Nation”

  1. Chad Richard Bresson says:

    While the Puritans’ hermeneutic was touched on, a glaring omission from the conversation is the role of theology in understanding America’s past and present. It would have been interesting to hear Welch pursue a line of questioning regarding the relationship between “America was a Christian nation” and “American *should be* a Christian nation”.

  2. Shannon says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It is hard to find helpful, accurate information on this particular subject that I can teach to my kids. I have been searching for a while now and this has pointed me in a good direction for further study.

  3. Chuck says:

    The Search for Christian America by Noll, Marsden, and Hatch is an eye-opener. Great book, and happy to have read it in college.

  4. Doug says:

    I think they miss the point. The deists of the 18th century were still men that believed in the Creator God, the fallen nature of man (Federalist #51), but also the dignity and value of individual men- not the masses. They were not secularists, materialists, naturalists. They also believed in a very limited government; all these are unique to Judeo-Christian worldview. They are most definitely NOT part of the secularist world view (Hobbes, Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Obama), or any other world view. What ever happened to the understanding of Christendom? that is not to say they were perfect. A thought experiment: Is Israel a jewish nation? why? Is there something in their constitution that makes it explicit? I’m not sure, But I don’t think so. It is a Jewish nation because of the dominant culture.
    I also agree with Chad, above, in that the question for today is whether we should desire a Christian nation and how would it’s Constitution look different? I submit that our current constitution would be a good start. The problem is not our founding documents, but the failure of successive generations to think and act faithfully. We have retreated from the public square.
    What kind of nation should we desire, if not a Christian nation? A secular one that will be the enemy of God, as we see our current drift?

  5. John Erickson says:

    Another excellent current reference on this theme is Al Mohler’s recent Thinking in Public podcast with Gregg Frazer. Frazer has studied the founders in depth and helpfully creates a defining category. He calls it Theistic rationalism. He does so to bring into more clear focus what many of the founders really embraced, deism is a sloppy label that is generally inaccurate and unhelpful as he explains.

    http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/09/10/what-did-americas-founders-really-believe-a-conversation-with-historian-gregg-frazer/

  6. Alan Noble says:

    Fantastic video. I’ve written on recent trends of using 2 Chron 7:14 in just the way Dr. Marsden describes–American as a replacement of Israel: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture/2012/09/citizenship-confusion-humble-yourself-and-repent-and-god-may-or-may-not-heal-our-land/

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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