New History Textbook Grapples with America’s Complex Religious History

The Gospel Coalition | 6/24/2019 | Staff
jollyjetta (Posted by) Level 3
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The idea that America is a Christian nation is both true and false.

It’s true that the history of America has been shaped by many Christians. At the same time, there are numerous examples of Americans acting against Christian principles, even as they used the language of religion as justification—chief among them chattel slavery. The history of America is a complicated mixture of ideals, failure, and the tension between these extremes.

History - Thomas - Kidd - Professor - History

Wading into this complex history is Thomas Kidd, professor of history at Baylor University and associate director of the Institute for Studies of Religion. In an effort to provide a critical historical narrative that foregrounds the theme of religion, he has completed a two-volume history of the United States of America. These texts are meant to be useful for both homeschool communities and religious colleges. Kidd explores everything from the religious rituals of Native American nations to the voting and religious actions of evangelicals in the 21st century.

I asked him about some of the major themes of his textbook.

History - Retelling - Facts - Selection - Interpretation

History is never just the retelling of facts, but the selection and interpretation of facts into a cohesive narrative. What is the narrative that emerged as you were writing this history?

American history textbooks are especially difficult to put into a coherent narrative, because literally anything that happened in the American past is “fair game.” Plus, there are events and figures that it would be quite peculiar to ignore, such as the American Revolution, Abraham Lincoln, or the 9/11 attacks. Critics of history just see it as “one thing after another,” however, so I do try to draw out particular themes that help hold the story together.

Themes - Religion - Focus - Interests - Commitments

One of those themes is religion. This focus emerges from my own scholarly interests and personal commitments as a Christian. But religion is also arguably the most vital...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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