Posts Tagged ‘Church History Journal’

The Story Behind the Picture

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

By: Bruce Hindmarsh

My presidential address in January, “The Inner Life of Doctrine: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Calvinist-Arminian Debate Among Methodists,” is published this month in Church History, but it began several years ago on a padded bench in Henry E. Huntington’s villa in San Marino, California.

This grand house was built in 1911 and is now the centre-piece of the Huntington Art Galleries. I was in Pasadena with my family and working on a research fellowship at the Huntington Library, and every day I enjoyed walking through the gardens to have lunch in the Café. I used to stop off on the way at the Huntington villa to wander through the galleries, and especially to sit in the Grand Manner Portrait Gallery to look at pictures by Gainsborough, Lawrence, Romney and other eighteenth-century greats. In the library, I was reading sources having to do with Methodism, but here, sitting on my padded bench, I was looking at pictures painted around the very same time.

I became fascinated with one particular portrait, the painting of the actress Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse by Joshua Reynolds. As I looked at the date, 1784, I tried to think of all that was going on that same year among the evangelical figures that I was reading about. I realized how easily we begin to study our subjects in disciplinary silos, rather than to make the rich interdisciplinary connections that reflect the reality of life lived on the ground then as now. As I became curious, I began reading about eighteenth-century portraiture and seeing connections to my work on evangelical subjects. At first some of the connections were interesting enough, but superficial. Apparently, Reynolds had a niece who was a god-fearing Methodist who wrote a commentary on Ezekiel. The evangelical John Russell was a leading pastelist and member of the Royal Academy with Reynolds. And so on. But then the connections became more profound as it became apparent that there were deeper aspirations and cultural concerns that brought art and religion into the same frame (so to speak!). I began to try to look at these things together, and if art and religion, then why not other cultural “silos,” and so I began to draw in philosophy, literature, and music, as connections appeared. In the end, this interdisciplinary perspective allowed me to take the Calvinist-Arminian debate among evangelicals—what for many folks today would seem a something of sectarian backwater—and place it back at the centre of eighteenth-century culture and to show how it reflected fundamental aspirations. I used the “sublime” and the “agon” as terms of art that made these connections.

There is a nice coda to this story, since my journey with this article also ended with sitting on another bench in another gallery. Several of us were in Oxford in April for the first joint meeting the ASCH and the Ecclesiastical History Society in the UK—a very successful venture and stimulating conference. It was a busy four days on the ground in Oxford for me, as co-chair of the conference. I was also hosting an alumni event for Regent College and visiting with old friends and colleagues from earlier days in Oxford. It was breathless. Immediately after the conference on Saturday, I rushed to North Oxford to have tea with my good friend, the great Methodist scholar, John Walsh. He insisted on “whizzing” me back into town, after tea, to get ready for the alumni reception. At the last minute, I remembered that the painting, “The Choice of Hercules” by Paulo de Matteis was housed at the Ashmolean in Oxford, and I’d be going right by. This is the painting, commissioned by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, that appears on the cover of this month’s issue of Church History, and it figured largely in my address and the article. I had not actually seen the painting in person, and I did not know if it was on display. I asked John to drop me at the corner by the museum, and I rushed past the tourists pouring out the front doors and went to the main desk. It was five minutes to closing, and they were shutting down the computers. A kind museum volunteer started up her computer again and looked up the painting. It was upstairs in the European Gallery at the far end, and if I ran I might be able to get there in time to see it. And so I ran, taking the stairs two or three at a time, and arrived huffing and puffing to the gallery, where I saw the painting. It was hard to miss. I took the picture below to help me remember the scale of it. The gallery attendants kindly gave me ten minutes with the painting in an empty gallery, and it was a fitting conclusion to my research for this article.

I am left with two reflections on my experience. The first one I have alluded to already, namely, that we ought as historians to be open to interdisciplinary investigations as a way of seeing our religious subjects in their fullest context. But secondly, and more personally, I am reminded of the importance of a certain element of disinterested exploration, or what Josef Pieper termed “leisure,” in our research. It was in the interstices—the breathing spaces—of my research at the Huntington, when I was “off duty,” so to speak, that I found my way to Reynolds and began to contemplate connections that would later bear fruit in my work. This element of scholarly leisure is increasingly hard to find, and hard to justify in terms of the world in which we now live, but I am grateful the Huntington remains the sort of gracious place that invites such contemplation.

Finally, I refer to an oratorio by Handel in my article, and if any readers would like to hear the music for this work, “The Choice of Hercules,” which is a kind of sound track to the painting below, you may hear at least snippets of the music here. The track for the trio that I describe in my article is number 18.

Bruce Hindmarsh is the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College. This post is drawn from his Presidential Address to the American Society of Church History at the Society’s 2014 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. The address was published in the June 2014 issue of Church History and is available here.

Arthur Scherr’s “Thomas Jefferson Versus the Historians”: A Response by Matt McCook

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

By Matt McCook

Church History’s Spring issue included an article by Arthur Scherr, entitled “Thomas Jefferson Versus the Historians: Christianity, Atheistic Morality, and the Afterlife.” When the article appeared we solicited a number of responses, which can be found here, here, and here. Today we add one more response, this time from Matt McCook, Associate Professor of History at Oklahoma Christian University.

 

The religious faiths of the founders, particularly Thomas Jefferson, have been the subject of so much recent scholarship and polemical writing, Arthur Scherr’s title, “Thomas Jefferson Versus the Historians: Christianity, Atheistic Morality, and the Afterlife” led me to wonder which historians Scherr’s Jefferson would battle. It was clear from the opening paragraph that historians who supposedly champion the position of the Religious Right were the intended opponents. Although all respondents on this blog have mentioned that Scherr casts his net too widely in identifying the culprits, the critique bears repeating. Polemical works on all sides deserves to be called out by serious scholars, but not all scholars who argue that Jefferson was more Christian or more comfortable with some degree of cooperation between church and state are necessarily writing on behalf of the Religious Right. I find little similarity between the works of David Barton and the scholarship of James Hutson, Paul Conkin, Edwin Gaustad, or even Daniel Dreisbach. Their works are not merely provocative, as unsupported polemical assertions are, nor would they claim their conclusions were above historical revisionism. Rather, they have contributed reasonable assertions based on available evidence that demand attention; their contributions are not so easily dismissed.

Scherr raises important questions about Jefferson’s motives for issuing executive prayer and fasting declarations as Virginia’s Governor. Yet, his depiction of Jefferson makes it nearly impossible to trust what the founder says. Scherr’s Jefferson expresses himself more freely when out of office, more honestly when corresponding with fellow skeptics and materialists, and more evasively when addressing spiritualists or Christians in his own party. If, as Scherr suggests, Jefferson might lie to his friend, Benjamin Rush to keep from offending him, how can we know the true Jefferson? Scherr does not explain why we should take Jefferson’s more heretical writings to heart while explaining away more favorable comments on Christianity. Perhaps John Quincy Adams was justified, not by calling Jefferson an “infidel”, but by labeling him a “double-dealer.”

Much of what Sherr cites as examples of Jefferson’s support for atheism, more clearly illustrates his opposition to Calvinism. In this, Jefferson was in good Christian company for many evangelical reformers blasted popular notions of Calvinistic dogma as vehemently as Jefferson. These were the same evangelicals who supported Jefferson politically being unaware or unconcerned with whatever his unorthodox views might have been. Sherr points out that Jefferson’s hatred of Lyman Beecher and Timothy Dwight were constant, but these were long time political foes and not religious rivals. Perhaps Scherr would agree that Jefferson overlook one’s religious differences, even those of an atheist, more than he could look past one being a Federalist.

In an interesting side note, Scherr points out that Jefferson was confused about Jewish beliefs in an afterlife which raises interesting questions worthy of further study about other mistaken notions various founders had about various religious groups or doctrines.

To his credit, Scherr does not apply his conclusions about Jefferson to the founders generally, something popular audiences and some scholars can hardly resist. Among those scholars who have most convincingly argued against such generalizations are James Hutson and Daniel Dreisbach. Scherr succeeds in distinguishing Jefferson from other founders on religious beliefs. Although, in doing so, he makes John Adams seem more orthodox. Thus, the tug of war over the founders and their faiths will continue. Polemical writers and popular audiences will continue to simplify and overgeneralize. Works like Scherr’s will be scrutinized and analyzed resulting in a deeper understanding of Jefferson’s religious beliefs. In this way, Scherr joins the company of other worthy scholars who force us to contemplate. While I do not agree with all of his assertions, I especially appreciate the much needed attention to historiography.

Thomas Jefferson Versus Some Historians: Frank Cogliano Responds to Arthur Scherr

Monday, April 21st, 2014

By Frank Cogliano

Church History’s Spring issue includes an article by Arthur Scherr, entitled “Thomas Jefferson Versus the Historians: Christianity, Atheistic Morality, and the Afterlife.” When the article appeared, we asked Frank Cogliano for his comments. We also asked John Ragosta, whose response is here, and Thomas Kidd, whose response is here.

Frank Cogliano is a professor of American history and Dean International for North America at the University of Edinburgh. He has authored or edited nine books on revolutionary and early national America, including Thomas Jefferson: Reputation and Legacy (2006) and Emperor of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson’s Foreign Policy (2014).

 

In “Thomas Jefferson Versus the Historians” Arthur Scherr challenges the view that Jefferson’s “wall of separation” between church and state was permeable and that the Sage of Monticello was a devout Christian. The view of a Christian Jefferson who accepted a blurring of the boundary between church and state, supported fast days and attended church services in public buildings, has gained traction in recent years particularly among those who advocate for a “Christian Founding” of the American Republic. If Jefferson, so long portrayed as deistic skeptic who believed a wall should separate church and state, the president who excised miracles from the New Testament, can be shown to be a devout Christian, then there can be no question that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and (by implication) should be a Christian nation today. This view has most prominently, and controversially, been promulgated by David Barton – whose work has been discredited even on the Christian Right. (Barton makes a cameo appearance in this essay but, thankfully in my view, isn’t its main focus.)

Arthur Scherr challenges and seeks to refute the Christian Jefferson, arguing that Jefferson believed in a strict separation of church and state and denying that he was a Christian, at least in the sense recognized by Americans at the turn of the nineteenth century. Scherr’s Jefferson was comfortable with atheism and, while he believed in the moral teachings of Jesus, denied Jesus’s divinity, rejecting the afterlife and organized Christianity in old age. Scherr does so through a close reading of some of the scholars who have written recently on the issue of Jefferson and religion, notably Daniel Dreisbach, James Hutson and Edwin Gaustad. He provides a detailed point-by-point refutation of their main arguments. His analysis of Dreisbach’s main argument is excellent. On balance his analysis is persuasive. I find Scherr’s Jefferson more compatible with my own understanding of Jefferson’s religion than I do Dreisbach’s (despite Scherr’s characterization of my own treatment of Dreisbach and Hutson as sympathetic, p. 67 n. 17).

Despite this, I respectfully disagree with certain aspects of Scherr’s analysis. For example when he discusses Jefferson’s reluctant acceptance of wartime fast days during his tenure as governor of Virginia, Scherr asserts that Jefferson was “merely following orders from the House of Delegates” (63) and Congress. In 1779, Scherr argues, Jefferson followed the orders of Congress for fear “he would have been suspected of treason or loyalism if he did not.” (66) I think this is a misreading of the situation. While the Virginia constitution of 1776 created a very weak executive, the House of Delegates couldn’t issue orders to the governor. Students of the War of Independence will know that Congress similarly lacked the authority to order state governors to act. While a small matter, I think Scherr has overstated his case somewhat to explain away Jefferson’s support for, or at least his failure to oppose, wartime fast days.

While close reading of the sources, both primary and secondary is the key to Scherr’s analysis, I think he sometimes misreads Jefferson. He suggests that Jefferson’s failure to capitalize “god” “unconsciously” implies “irreverence” (93). Perhaps. Perhaps not. Anyone who’s spent time perusing Jefferson’s writings in manuscript, as Scherr surely has, will know that Jefferson was inconsistent in his use of capital letters. Similarly I don’t think Jefferson actually feared that Presbyterians would introduce an inquisition in Virginia in 1820. (103) His rhetorical excesses when writing about his political opponents are well-documented and this seems to be such a case.

My most serious observation concerns the eponymous “historians” who have misread Jefferson’s religion, according to Scherr. While these include leading figures in the field such as Dreisbach, Hutson and Gaustad, Scherr fails to discuss the work of the likes of John Ragosta and Johann Neem which generally support his view. This may seem curious, except this literature somewhat undermines the premise the article—that there is a “trendy” (106, n. 106) historiographical consensus in favor of a Christian Jefferson which needs to be refuted. As the scholarship of Ragosta and Neem demonstrates this is something of an historiographical straw man.

I was a little bit dismayed by Dr. Scherr’s treatment of some of his fellow scholars. He castigates Andrew Burstein, unfairly in my view, as “vapid” and “perfunctory” (104) for his treatment of Jefferson’s late-in-life views on immortality. He is especially critical that Burstein bases his argument on one letter that Jefferson wrote to Francis Van Der Kemp on January 11. 1825. Burstein’s reading of the Van Der Kemp letter is considerably more persuasive, I believe, than attempting to divine Jefferson’s unconscious thoughts from his orthography. At any rate, Burstein’s scholarship warrants more temperate and measured consideration than it receives here.

Arthur Scherr has written a fascinating analysis of Jefferson’s religious thought. He has taken on some of the most influential writing on the subject in a persuasive manner. I’m largely sympathetic with his portrait of Jefferson. Perhaps more historians share his view than Scherr realizes. This article isn’t so much about Jefferson versus the historians as Jefferson versus some historians.

Jefferson Versus the Historians, or Barton Versus the Historians? Thomas Kidd Responds to Arthur Scherr

Monday, April 14th, 2014

By Thomas Kidd

Church History’s Spring issue includes an article by Arthur Scherr, entitled “Thomas Jefferson Versus the Historians: Christianity, Atheistic Morality, and the Afterlife.” When the article appeared, we asked for comment from other historians who have studied the role of religion in Jefferson’s thought. (Last week’s response by John Ragosta is here.)

Thomas S. Kidd is professor of history at Baylor University, and is completing a biography of George Whitefield for Yale University Press.

 

The topic of Thomas Jefferson’s faith generates an extreme range of opinions. These run from Christian pop history writer David Barton’s insistence that, until late in life, Jefferson was an orthodox Christian, to Arthur Scherr’s contention in his Church History piece that Jefferson lived and died as an “Epicurean deistic pagan,” a pantheist, or perhaps even an atheist.

Barton’s The Jefferson Lies strained credulity by its selective use of evidence, leading Thomas Nelson publishers to pull the book from circulation in 2012. Scherr’s article respects standard historical practices in its use of evidence, and his analysis highlights many important aspects of Jefferson’s faith (or lack thereof). But as with other polemical views on Jefferson’s beliefs, Scherr’s thesis – that Jefferson considered himself no kind of Christian, not even a radically liberal one – outruns the nuances of the evidence.

To take one example, Scherr cites Jefferson’s 1788 letter in which he excused himself from serving as a godparent because the ritual would require him to affirm Trinitarian doctrine. (David Barton’s book neglected to address this letter.) “The difficulty of reconciling the ideas of Unity and Trinity, have, from a very early part of my life, excluded me from the office of sponsorship,” Jefferson confessed. Scherr thinks that the sentences that follow are more important: the prospect of godparenting had often been proposed to him by his friends, Jefferson noted, “who would have trusted, for the faithful discharge of it, to morality alone instead of which the church requires faith.”

Against the conventional reading of this passage, in which Jefferson is simply saying that doubts about the Trinity prevented his service as a godparent, Scherr interprets Jefferson as saying that he “did not believe in Christianity,” and that he was advancing the possibility that “an atheist could be a decent, moral person.” Later, Scherr does not explain the meaning of Jefferson’s famous 1803 statement “I am a Christian, in the only sense in which [Jesus] wished,” other than to note that this letter denied the resurrection.

Scherr’s article pits Jefferson against the “historians,” and it is quite an impressive roster of “scholarly adherents” whom Scherr regards as standing implicitly with the Religious Right in its co-opting of Jefferson. Thomas Buckley, Andrew Burstein, Peter Onuf, the late Edwin Gaustad, and others all seem to be part of those serving the interests of the Christian Right by “fecklessly attempt[ing] to depict [Jefferson] as a man of devout Christian faith.”

The worst offender, for Scherr, is Daniel Dreisbach. But I see little evidence in Scherr’s article that any of these historians, including Dreisbach, have tried to paint Jefferson (a la Barton) as a person of orthodox, Trinitarian faith. Instead, they have tried to account for Jefferson’s occasional comfort with government entanglement with religion, his fascination with the historical (though non-divine) Jesus of Nazareth, and his political alliance with many evangelicals, especially Baptists.

I covered many conservative and Christian historians’ rejection of Barton for the evangelical periodical WORLD Magazine in 2012. For one of those articles, I interviewed Dreisbach, who told me that he had a “‘very hard time’ accepting the notion,” advanced by Barton, “that Jefferson was ever an orthodox Christian, or that Jefferson ever embraced Christianity’s ‘transcendent claims.’” According to Scherr, Dreisbach is “closer to Barton than Barton’s opponents.” But in fact, across the ideological and faith spectrum Barton found virtually no scholarly supporters for The Jefferson Lies.

As an article on Jefferson’s faith, then, Scherr adds value to the scholarly discussion. The notion of Dreisbach and other historians bolstering David Barton’s caricature of Jefferson, however, is not reflected in what those scholars have actually written.

Thomas Jefferson and the Historians – John Ragosta Responds to Arthur Scherr

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

By John Ragosta

Church History’s Spring issue includes an article by Arthur Scherr, entitled “Thomas Jefferson Versus the Historians: Christianity, Atheistic Morality, and the Afterlife.” When the article appeared, we asked for comment from other historians who have studied the role of religion in Jefferson’s thought.

Our first response comes from John Ragosta, author of Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed (University of Virginia Press, 2013) and Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped to Win the American Revolution & Secured Religious Liberty (Oxford University Press, 2010).

 

Asked for a comment on Arthur Scherr’s analysis of Thomas Jefferson, Christianity, morality, and an afterlife, I am a bit ambivalent.

Scherr is deeply concerned with misinformation from the “religious right” suggesting that Thomas Jefferson was not really devoted to a strict separation of church and state or that he was a devout Christian (and the possible implications of such misinformation to constitutional debate and policy – although he studiously ignores those issues).

Scherr is on strong ground here. He points out many problems with the understanding of Jefferson promoted by David Barton, Daniel Dreisbach, James Hutson, and Charles Sanford and the occasional excess of Edward Gaustad. Those corrections need not be rehearsed here; Scherr covers many well and there is a voluminous literature on the topic.

Exploring that literature, including works by Michael Myerson, Johann Neem, or my own work,1 would have added considerable primary and secondary sources as well as depth to his argument. He might, for example, have looked to other sources for James Madison’s response to the limitation of the First Amendment to the federal government (a plea that the states adopt its principles) or to the manner in which Jefferson’s beliefs matured over time. His brief dismissal of the good work by Warren Throckmorton and Michael L. Couter as being from the “public field” is also misplaced.

Yet, the article potentially raises more problems than it solves. Scherr’s treatment of the question of Jefferson’s belief in an afterlife is emblematic. He entitles the relevant section, appropriately enough, “Jefferson’s Doubts About the Afterlife,” but concludes that Jefferson’s “only concept of ‘afterlife’ was the end of life: death” (108). (Compare 82 – “probably considered belief in the afterlife puerile.”) This is far from clear, especially as Jefferson grew older, and Scherr’s own citations and quotes demonstrate Jefferson’s lack of certainty. As Neem explains, the empirical Jefferson “could never convince himself” of an afterlife, but “express[ed] hope.”

Reading the entire Jefferson and John Adams correspondence, one might reasonably argue even more strongly. Certainly Jefferson’s materialism is not dispositive as he always believed that God (or, to him, “god”) could enervate matter. (Compare Scherr: materialism “implicitly denying Christianity’s belief in the afterlife,” 104.) More generally, one should not expect more than human certainty from a Founder.

Scherr’s criticisms of a number of historians is also excessive. For example, Peter Onuf’s comments on Jefferson’s support of evangelical church polities and “democratic theology” (107), is hardly to say that Jefferson endorsed evangelical dogma. In fact, Scherr ignores Jefferson’s statement that Christianity is the best religion for a republic (largely for the reasons that Onuf explains). (Compare Scherr’s treatment of Eva S. Wolf’s metaphorical comment about “election[s]” in a republic, 107.)

More seriously, Scherr runs perilously close to endorsing a false dichotomy between a Christian evangelical Jefferson and an agnostic or atheist one. He says dismissively that Jefferson’s inaugural included “pro forma thanks to a creator,” and follows that with a “however” the inaugural supported religious liberty (67), as if the two were inconsistent – an argument made (implicitly) against Jefferson that deeply angered him. With some bitterness, he wrote Margaret Bayard Smith in 1816 of the jibes he suffered from “the priests:” “They wished him to be thought Atheist, Deist, or Devil, who could advocate freedom from their religious dictations.”

Evidence of Jefferson’s sincere and deep belief in a god is overwhelming. To snipe that, when praying in both of his inaugurals, Jefferson “may have only uttered these platitudes with reluctance” (68), is, at best, speculative and inconsistent with Jefferson’s other actions and letters. To say later that Jefferson “lent a tacit approval to atheism” by attacking Calvin and corruptions of Christianity that suggest revelation is necessary to find a god (93), is to give the entirely wrong impression. (As Scherr notes, it was in this context that Jefferson calls Calvin an “Atheist, which I can never be.”)

My criticisms are not meant to undermine the primary point of this article, which is correct and timely. Yet, by giving the wrong impression about Jefferson’s deep religiosity and, most especially, overstating Jefferson’s objections, one risks not only confusion but gives those to whom Scherr is addressing his arguments too much ammunition.

I will end with Scherr’s final words: “Were Jefferson alive, he would probably say, contrary to the claims of the Religious Right and its scholarly adherents, who fecklessly attempt to depict him as a man of devout Christian faith, ‘let the wall of separation stand.’” (109).

 
 
 


[1] See, e.g., Michael Myerson, Endowed by their Creator (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012); Johann Neem, “Beyond the Wall: Reinterpreting Jefferson’s Danbury Address.” Journal of the Early Republic 27 (Spring 2007): 139-54; Johann Neem, “A Republican Reformation: Thomas Jefferson’s Civil Religion and the Separation of Church and State,” in A Companion to Thomas Jefferson, ed. by Francis D. Cogliano, 91-109 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011); John Ragosta, Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013).

Church History – March 2014

Saturday, March 8th, 2014


The Spring issue of Church History is out on Cambridge Journals Online. In this issue:
 

Arthur Scherr provides a thorough rebuttal to historical portrayals of Thomas Jefferson as a Christian.

 

Caroline Schroeder challenges conventional categories of monasticism with a look at women’s monasticism in early Christian Egypt.

 

Howard Louthan explores Erasmus’s relationship with the Polish Kingdom, and his portrayal of Poland as a model for Christendom.

 

John Stuart looks at the influence of imperialism and ecumenism on Anglo-American missionaries’ conceptions of “religious liberty” in Egypt.

 

And Keith Stanglin traces the rise and fall of Biblical perspicuity in 17th century theology.

 

Check out the full issue at Cambridge Journals Online

Everything Is Due Monday (An ASCH-EHS Update)

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

The final deadline for proposals for the Society’s joint international conference in Oxford is only two days away. The ASCH and Ecclesiastical History Society have accepted 65 proposals already, but they will take submissions until Monday, January 20, at 12 PM London time. The CFP, guidelines, and submission forms are available through the CFP link in the right side of this page (under Conferences), or on the Society’s Conferences & Meetings page.

The Society has travel funding available for some presenters. If you are an ASCH member, you can apply for a travel stipend by downloading this form (graduate students download this form instead), filling it out, and emailing it to keith.francis@churchhistory.org, along with a copy of your CV.

If your proposal has already been accepted, January 20 is also the deadline to register for the conference (which you can do here).

“Los Nacionales” – Foreign Actors in the Spanish Civil War

Monday, December 30th, 2013

by Kathy Schneider

The cover of this month’s Church History illustrates the left’s portrayal of the Nationalist Front. The Ministry of Propaganda published the caricature during the Spanish Civil War. In the boat are all the familiar faces (clockwise from the left): Italian military as marked by the blue sash with the fasces symbol, two Moorish troops with three more below, the Nazi capitalist, and, most prominently, the cardinal who gives his blessing. “Arriba España” was one of the slogans of the Francoist forces.

In contradiction to this phrase, the cartoonist has placed Spain on the gallows. Lastly, the boat in which they travel has the words Junta de Burgos and Lisboa. Burgos is the location of the rebel government and Lisboa represents Portugal’s support of Franco. In short, the cartoonist sought to include all sources of foreign aid for the Nationalists in the hope that Spaniards would see the Nationalists and their supporters as a grave danger to Spain’s existence. Interestingly, the Church is included among the foreign supporters although the Spanish Church tended to see itself as a bulwark of traditional Spanish identity.

The depiction, as propaganda is wont to do, simplifies a complicated situation. The Spanish conflict had very Spanish roots, but was pulled into larger European events with the rise of the radical right. Both the Nationalists and the Republicans contributed to this portrayal through their generalization of a conflict between ungodly Communism versus fascism. While Hitler and Mussolini had their own interests that shaped their actions, the assistance was vital to Franco’s victory.

December 2013 Issue Available

Thursday, November 21st, 2013


The December issue of Church History is now online. In this issue:

Martin Marty reviews Peter Brown’s Through the Eye of a Needle.

Daniel Richie looks at Irish Reformed Presbyterians who opposed slavery in antebellum America.

Kathy Schneider discusses the secular front organizations established by Catholics in the Second Republic of Spain to get around laws prohibiting schools run by religious orders.

Luke Fenwick looks at the politics surrounding the denazification of two Protestant churches in Germany after 1945.

Klaus Petersen and Jørn Henrik Petersen analyze the attitudes of Danish and Norwegian Lutherans toward the modern welfare state in the mid-twentieth century.

And George Faithful examines successive versions of the hymn “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” with an eye toward the theological and aesthetic needs of its translators’ religious traditions.

Check out the entire issue at Cambridge Journals Online.

September 2013 Issue Online

Friday, September 6th, 2013


Our September issue is out! This issue features a forum on the faith of four U.S. presidents and the ways in which their approach to religion and governance played out in American public life.

 
 

From the Editor’s Introduction:

Marking four significant moments in a religious history of the U.S. presidency, this forum begins to outline a larger arc of historical change. [John Quincy] Adams’s openness to the larger world and pride in America’s new beginning as a protestant nation helped lay the groundwork for Wilson’s assiduous commitment to Christian policy making. FDR’s effort to commandeer Christian rhetoric for political and military ends built on some of the precedents of Wilson’s religious idealism. And today, Obama’s strategic use of Christian realism as a matrix for policy formation reflects his effort to manage the legacies of Wilson and FDR as well as the hostility toward those legacies expressed by his opponents.

Also in this issue:

Tjamke Snijders and Steven Vanderputten reexamine medieval monastic penance in a reconciliatory manuscript in “From Scandal to Monastic Penance: A Reconciliatory Manuscript from the Early Twelfth-Century Abbey of St. Laurent in Liège.”

Bianca Lopez explores how a Roman aristocrat practiced Franciscan piety in Lopez’s Mead Prize winning essay, “Between Court and Cloister: The Life and Lives of Margherita Colonna.”

Daniel Cheely follows the development of one version of the New Testament in early modern France and England in “Legitimating Other People’s Scriptures: Pasquier Quesnel’s Nouveau Testament Across Post-Reformation Europe.”

And B.M. Pietsch’s “Lyman Stewart and Early Fundamentalism” explores the interplay between capitalism and fundamentalism through the career of the oilman who financed The Fundamentals and co-founded the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.

Check out the entire issue here.