Edited by Thomas S. Engeman and Michael P. Zuckert
“This collection of essays by some of the most eminent scholars in the field will have a wide-ranging influence on both academic and political debate on the vital interaction of religion and politics in historical and contemporary America.” —Garrett Ward Sheldon, University of Virginia’s College at Wise
This welcome new book explores the relationship between Protestant theology and American political thought of the founding era. It gathers together both new and well-known essays by scholars and outstanding thinkers in political philosophy, beginning with Michael Zuckert’s lead essay, derived from his work The Natural Rights Republic, that the thought of the American founding era is best described as an amalgam of Protestantism and Lockean political philosophy.
Some contributors challenge Zuckert’s “amalgam thesis” arguing, on the one side, that Locke himself was a Protestant political theologian, and, on the other, that Lockean political philosophy is incompatible with Christian political thought. Others defend or develop a middle ground between these two perspectives. Most of the contributors argue that the influence of Protestantism on the Founding helped create a dynamic role for religion that made America the most religious modern nation.
The debate on the influence of Protestantism is enriched by classic selections from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. The resulting dialogue provides fresh and provocative insights into the way in which politics and religion interacted during the founding of America. Thomas Engeman’s introduction and Michael Zuckert’s reflection on the issues raised by the essayists round out the book. Protestantism and the American Founding will serve as a valuable classroom guide for discussion and debate about issues in American and modern political philosophy.
Contributors: Michael Zuckert, Isaac Kramnick, R. Laurence Moore, Peter Augustine Lawler, Mark Noll, Wilson Carey McWilliams, Thomas G. West, Alexis de Toqueville, and Seymour M. Lipset.
“Michael Zuckert has made perhaps the most ambitious attempt to recast a normatively authoritative narrative of American history that accommodates Lockean, republican, and other overlooked sources of American political thought, including Protestant Christianity. In a series of three works. . . . Zuckert advances the argument that American political thought was most powerfully and distinctly shaped by the Lockean philosophy of natural rights.” — University Bookman
“. . . The strength of this collection lies precisely in its ability to give respectful voice to many passionate students of the role of religious thought in the American founding and beyond.” —_Utopian Studies_
“Protestantism and the American Founding is a useful book, particularly for scholars. Its main strength is the fact that it is actually a dialogue between the contributors, who honestly engage each other, often by name, in its pages.” — History: Reviews of New Books
“The nine chapters explore ‘the relationship between Protestant theology and American political thought of the founding era’. . . most of the contributors argue that the influence of Protestantism on the Founding helped create a dynamic role for religion that made America the most religious modern nation.’” — Theology Digest
“This helpful collection pulls together nine essays debating the role of Protestantism in the creation of American democracy. . . It promises to be a rich resource for faculty and graduate students in the fields of political philosophy, history, and religious studies.” — Religious Studies Review
“. . . A testament that the presumed insignificance of religion during the formation of the American republic has been corrected . . . . Elaborates and explores the extent to which Protestantism remained a force during the founding period and, more generally, points to the significance of religion’s role in American public life up to the present.” — Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies