Well-researched and up-to-date, [John Fea’s Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?] is full of timely wisdom on a topic far more complicated than many people think. If I could recommend but one source on the Christian America thesis, this would be it.
In a recent interview Professor Fea explained the importance of good historical investigation:
Most people who read the book expect me to jump headfirst into the political debate. About 90 percent of the interviews I have done have asked me to offer a “yes” or “no” answer to the question in the title of my book. It has alerted me to the fact that our schools have failed to teach good historical thinking.
Historians listen to people in the past. They empathize with them and try to understand them, even if they do not agree. They show intellectual hospitality to people in the past. The people historians encounter may be dead, but they have left us with documents to help us better understand them. I firmly believe that mature historical understanding can be an antidote to the culture wars because it decenters us. It forces us to go beyond our brief life and see ourselves as part of a larger human community created in the image of God. I realize that it is very unnatural to think this way, but I will continue to hold out hope that this kind of thinking about the world has its merits.
His answer to the question seems reasonable to me: “It depends where you look and how you define your terms.”
HT: Scot McKnight