The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution


Product Details

University Press of Kansas
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.2 X 0.7 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Gregg L. Frazer is professor of history and political studies and Dean of the School of Humanities at the Master's University. He is the author of The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution, also from Kansas.


Through thorough research and marked erudition, Frazer illuminates a maelstrom of differing theological perspectives among a group of Americans that we often refer to glibly as Christian or Deist. Frazer's book expands our notions of what these people believed about God, scripture, the afterlife, and other "Christian" dogmas, and contributes to the understanding that America's religious history has always been deeply and fundamentally plural. It is true that short-hand terms such as Christian, Deist, theistic rationalist are necessary at times, but for those who wish to think through America's religious history in more intricate and nuanced terms, this compelling book provides just such an opportunity. Some readers may come away from this book with a new set of categories. but all readers should benefit from a deepened understanding that the founders, however we label them, were not themselves limited in their thinking by the appellations we seek to bestow upon them."--Law and Politics Book Review

"Sophisticated probing bypasses the simplistic contemporary polarization of secular vs. Christian just as it claims the founders did."--American History Magazine

"A consistently interesting study. . . . Despite some reservations, I would say Frazer has developed a compelling explanation for how and why the Founding generation approached church-state relations in the way they did."--Voice of Reason: The Journal of Americans for Religious Liberty

"Frazer argues that the key founders valued religion not for any truths delivered by divine revelation or as a means to salvation but because of its 'laudable effects, ' which included providing a foundation for public morality. In summary, Frazer has skillfully marshaled a considerable amount of evidence in support of his new category of revolutionary-era religious belief and added more fuel to an already intense discourse. Highly recommended."--Choice
"Sophisticated, well-documented, and forcefully argued. Extreme partisans who champion 'Christian America' or complete secularism will not like this book, but all other readers should come away much better informed about the past and also much better situated to adjudicate religious-political debates today."--Mark Noll, author of God and Race in American Politics: A Short History

"Slices through prevailing understandings of the founders' religious beliefs by showing that they are neither what contemporary secularists nor what contemporary Christians often wish they were."--Russell Muirhead, author of Just Work

"Lucidly written and suffused with great honesty."--Thomas L. Pangle, author of Political Philosophy and the God of Abraham