Evangelical Fervor and the Crisis of the Civil War: A Conversation with Historian David Goldfield

Interview with David Goldfield

Thinking in Public

May 8, 2011

(This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated)

Mohler: This is “Thinking in Public”, a program dedicated to intelligent conversation about front line theological and cultural issues with the people who are shaping them. I’m Albert Mohler, your host, and President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

As America now commemorates the 150th anniversary of the onset of the Civil War there is a different kind of struggle that it has now undertaken. And that is the struggle to explain the Civil War—its causation, its affects, and the arguments that were part of the political and cultural and even theological discussion of the time. Now add to this conversation a book by David Goldfield. The book is America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation. Professor Goldfield has a startling thesis and that is that the causation of the Civil War has to be explained at least in part by the influence of evangelical Christianity. And you know right now that’s going to lead to a most interesting conversation.

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and editor of the Journal of Urban History. He’s the author of books including Black, White, and Southern: Race Relations in Southern Culture which received the Mayflower Award for non-fiction. And the Outstanding Book Award from Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights. He’s also the author of Still Fighting the Civil War: The American South in Southern History, Southern Histories Personal and Sacred, and most recently the book America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation. Professor Goldfield welcome to Thinking in Public.

Goldfield: Thank you. It’s great to be with you.

Mohler: I found reading your book to be an intellectual feast of sorts. And also something of a trial for an evangelical reading the book. And when I came to the issue of your thesis it struck me that somehow you had to have arrived here given your explanation for the causation for the American Civil War in a way that has a history unto itself. How did you come to this thesis about the cause and the meaning of America’s most disastrous internal conflict?

Goldfield: I’m a Southern historian, and I think any Southern historian who doesn’t write about or consider religion is not giving a full picture of the American South. So I approached this book as a southern historian not as a Civil War historian. And I really became both uncomfortable and unsatisfied with the current explanations about the origins of the Civil War, about the Civil War itself, and about the aftermath of the Civil War. Not that these explanations were wrong necessarily, but they were certainly incomplete because they had left out what I thought was a key component and that was evangelical religion. Not only in the south but in the north as well because the second great awakening was a national movement that swept across the entire country.

Mohler: Now, what I found especially interesting is that your coverage of religion in the south is not all that unprecedented but at least in my review of literature what you have to argue about the effective evangelical religion in the north as a part of the causality for the Civil War is if not unique than certainly rather path breaking.

Goldfield: It is unique Dr. Mohler because most historians when they talk about the origins of the Civil War for a variety of reasons don’t really emphasize evangelical religion unless they’re talking about southerners and their emphasis on slavery as a God blessed institution. They rarely talk about the evangelical north unless they are talking about some of the reform movements that propped up during the early part of the 19th century. And I wanted to look very closely because I thought there was a dichotomy between north and south and certainly this split occurred not only in doctrine but also in fact by the mid 1840’s among the two largest evangelical denominations the Methodists and the Baptists. And I wanted to look at that and see what differences there were between northern evangelicals and southern evangelicals. And the difference was this Dr. Mohler: the difference was among southern evangelicals the most important aspect of their doctrine was the individual’s conversion the individual’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as his or her personal savior that was really the bedrock of southern evangelical Protestantism. In the north that was important too that was a key element in their belief as well but they also believed that it was incumbent upon them to take this process one step forward and that is to convert or reform the entire society. Now Southerners came back and said well if there’s something wrong with our society then God in his good time will rectify it but in the meantime we’re more interested in saving individual souls. And of course the northern evangelicals believed in a much broader purpose for their evangelical beliefs.

Mohler: Let’s depart from this for just a moment in order to come back to it. I just read Professor Steven Woodworth’s work on the Civil War This Great Struggle in which he argues that it was basically the westward expansion that was the primary causation of the Civil War. There have been various arguments of course centering on slavery, on industrialization and development in the north verses the more agrarian and rural settings of the south, sectionalism, embedded conflicts from the beginning of the Revolutionary and Colonial eras. How do you summarize the basic arguments for how America came to fight the Civil War?

Goldfield: The Westward Movement certainly was an important part of it because evangelicals believed that we were a God blessed nation. We were unique in the world in spreading the Gospel not only of Jesus Christ but also the gospel of democracy across the land ordained to conquer a continent from sea to shining sea. We were in affect the new Israel that is we were God’s chosen people for this particular task. Northern evangelicals believed that in order to achieve this great effort of fulfilling God’s prophecy that the nation had to rid itself of its sin. And they believe that there were two great sins encumbering America from reaching this potential. One sin was the growing power and threat of the Roman Catholic Church and the second sin was slavery and slave holding. So northern evangelicals set about the task of eliminating those sins and in fact you can, and I do quote northern evangelicals talking about exterminating the Roman Catholics just as they would exterminate slavery.

Mohler: In reading the book it seems to me that your primary thesis and any attempt to articulate this is going to be reductionistic but nonetheless in an attempt to encapsulate your thesis it appears to me that you are arguing that the infusion or the combination of evangelical religion and the democratic process in the north meant that the issue of slavery and other issues as well took on an importance that the political system just couldn’t handle. Is that correct?

Goldfield: That’s absolutely correct Dr. Mohler because our political system functions best from the center. The greatest pieces of legislation in our history from the constitution forward were really products of compromise and moderation. The difficulty with injecting evangelical religion or any religion into the political process is that it tends to eliminate the possibility or significantly reduce the possibility of compromise because how do you compromise with sin? Obviously you don’t. And the danger there is that your opponent not only becomes misguided or misinformed your opponent becomes evil, your opponent becomes kin to the devil and must be eliminated by some means. So that really is the danger and that’s what happened in the 1850’s the center started to erode. One of my heroes in my book is Georgia congressman and Senator Alexander Stevens who later went on to be Vice President of the confederacy. And he held this center position for about as long as he could. In order to remain politically viable and useful he had to commit to one of the extremes. And that was really the tragedy, the sadness of this process that you had..politicians like an Alexander Stevens or even an Abraham Lincoln who have to choose. And they chose unfortunately what was available to them at the time.

Mohler: As you describe the story of how northern evangelicals fueled and certainly led a movement that took on this kind of significance let’s talk some names and developments, significant books, I mean how did this happen? Was this some kind of great evangelical conspiracy? Or was it instead a natural development of the evangelical impulse?

Goldfield: Well I don’t think it was a conspiracy unless you can call all religious movements conspiracies, conspiracies of souls perhaps. But what happened was that this second great awakening just swept across the country and it gave rise to new religious movements and excitements. Of course the Mormons were perhaps the best example of this. But evangelicals tended to spread across the country and tended to dominate political process by the 1850’s. In fact by the 1850’s you had for the first time in American history a party dedicated to, if not eliminating the severely restricting one particular religion and that was the Roman Catholic faith and the party was the no nothing party. And that party eventually merged in with the Republican party which began primarily as an anti-slavery party. So you had this Republican party emerging in the mid 1850’s that brought these two beliefs together that is the greatest threats to American democracy and to the fulfillment of the Lord’s desire to have this country as the chosen country. The two greatest threats were the Roman Catholic Church and slavery in fact when Abraham Lincoln ran for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 1858 the Republican party slogan that year in Illinois was “vanquish the twin despotisms – Catholicism and Slavery.” So when the Republican party went to the polls both in 1858 and when Lincoln was the standard bearer in 1860 they went to the polls as the anti-Catholic, anti-slavery party. And in fact Lincoln won his majorities by relativity small margins in some of the northern states primarily because he appealed to the Protestant working men that the Republican party would protect their jobs and protect them against the one million Irish Catholic immigrants almost all of whom voted for the democratic party.

Mohler: Now theologically speaking Abraham Lincoln was certainly not an evangelical.

Goldfield: No he was not. In fact Dr. Mohler he wrote a five hundred page manuscript in the 1830’s that he called On Infidelity. Now today when we talk about infidelity we’re talking about a people being unfaithful to their spouses. But the word in the 19th century meant that you did not believe in God or at least you had a question about God’s beliefs. And one of his law partners tossed the manuscript into the fire telling him look Abe if this ever comes to light your political career is over. Obviously it would’ve been and during his 1846 run for congress his Democratic party opponent accused Lincoln of being very soft on religion. And politicians would continue to make that charge against Abraham Lincoln. But something happened to him. In 1849 his son died and he became increasingly aware of the spiritual life that really wasn’t that important to him before that time. It was a gradual process. It was not a sudden conversion. But certainly by the late 1850’s he was commonly quoting the bible in many of his speeches. In fact his great speech of the 1850’s the “House Divided” speech came from Matthew or Mark depending upon which book you use but the “House Divided” speech “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” And he began to pepper his speeches and his writings with these biblical phrases. So I think by the time certainly of the Civil War he had this Messianic view that this was a holy contest and conflict. And that one thing or another has to happen either this nation would exist half slave or this nation would exist wholly free.

Mohler: When you look at the role of Abraham Lincoln as clear there as development political and ideaological especially on the issue of slavery as Eric Foner has recently demonstrated in his Pulitzer Prize winning work. And we had a conversation with him just a few months again. But when he talks about Lincoln and I think when most of us fix on Lincoln in our memory our first thought is that he was the defender of the Union who was also the great emancipator.

Now, you tell the story and make very clear that his first concern was the preservation of the Union was that his own form of evangelical zeal?

Goldfield: I don’t think it was his own form of evangelical zeal. Lincoln was always a constitutionalist he was very, very uncomfortable with his party mate and this gets back to what I said earlier that the political center was eroding and Lincoln had to find a political place. And he went to the extreme of the Republican party. But William Sewer the senator from New York said that there is a higher law than the Constitution we must obey. Well I mean for personal faith that’s fine but as a principle to govern our nation it’s not fine because we are a nation of laws. And our basic law is the Constitution of the United States. And once we stray from that well you can have, potentially, you can have chaos. So as far as Lincoln was concerned the union must be preserved to prevent that chaos because he did not, he looked into the Constitution and he did not see the right of succession and he thought that this would sunder the Union and therefore the last best hope of mankind would be sundered as well. So the Union was always foremost in Lincoln’s mind. And in fact his record on slavery and anti-slavery was ambiguous. He, as a lawyer in Illinois, he actually defended a slaveholder attempting to get back a runaway slave. So and some of his Republican colleagues thought that he was not right on the slavery issue. In fact one of them called him that slave hound from Kentucky referring to Lincoln’s birth in that southern state.

Mohler: Most American evangelicals would be rather startled to hear that a major American historian blames evangelical Christianity as a major issue of causation for American’s most divisive conflict the Civil War. Now as Professor Goldfield makes his thesis clear it becomes apparent that what he’s talking about is the fusion of evangelical Christianity with the political process that leads to a dramatic escalation of the moral issues such that the political process breaks down. That’s a fascinating conversation and it also leads to some other very compelling questions. And it’s to those questions we now turn.

Professor Goldfield in reading your book I was left with one huge question and rare is the opportunity then to turn to the author and ask that question that seems to be ever present in the book and that is this, was the Civil War inevitable? Could it have been avoided?

Goldfield: I believe it could have been avoided because events rarely make wars, gremlins don’t make wars, men make wars. And we had compromised as a nation on the issue of slavery before. We have done that in 1787 in framing the Constitution, we had done that over the Missouri Compromise in 1820 we had done that over the ambition of California as a free state in 1850. There was no reason why we couldn’t do this again in 1861. IT was much more difficult by 1861 because you had an invalidly evangelical party the Republic party now in power both not only in the Congress but of course in the White House as well. SO it was much more difficult to do this but there were compromise proposals floating about between the time of Lincoln’s election in November of 1860 and his inauguration in March of 1861. There were at least two and possibly more floating about. Lincoln once he took office in March of 1861 could have abandoned the last two federal forts particularly the one at Ft. Sumter in Charleston Harbor. His principle was that these federal forts had to be defended that this was his constitutional duty which is fine, and well, and good but in fact all of the federal forts but two had been abandoned. So it seemed that the principle was already flawed and perhaps he should have gone on to another tack and by the same token President Jefferson Davis of the confederate states of America his secretary of state Robert Toombs of Georgia begged him not to press the issue at Ft. Sumter because he feared that any conflict initiated by the confederacy would do something Lincoln could never do and that is united the North. And of course Secretary of State Toombs was very…as far as that’s concerned. But even then, even after the firing on Ft. Sumter Lincoln could have stood down, could have stood back and said well let’s not have a great conflagration on this. But by then both sides had believed that God was on their side that this was a holy war and there was a great Thomas Nast painting that I have in my book about northern soldiers not dressed in their union blue uniforms but dressed as crusaders going south to rescue America from the infidel southerners and to restore law and order unto the land. And that’s how northerners and southerners felt. And if you listen to the lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic God’s almighty wrath coming down upon the south you can see this messianic view of conversion and conquest.

Mohler: Now if I could encapsulate the argument further and then ask you a question about it, it seems to me that if the Civil War indeed should be seen as not being inevitable but thus avoidable the question of slavery still pertains. Now in your book you do a very good job of laying out the fact that in terms of the westward expansion there is very little hope of the expansion of slavery. And you are dealing with this in terms of the territory from Mexico and all the rest so slavery was going to be isolated. Are you in basic agreement with some of the historians that are arguing now that slavery would have eventually disappeared for both economic and moral reasons even from the slaveholding states?

Goldfield: I think eventually that would be correct because let’s just say for argument sake that Lincoln had not called for troops to put down the rebellion in South Carolina. You would have had a confederacy of seven deep south states. Where are the slaves going to go? Where are the masters going to go because cotton is a type of crop that really leaches the soil and has to be expanded to new soils, to new lands, every 10-20 years. Where are these new lands going to be found? Certainly not in New Mexico and Arizona or in California which was controlled by the union nor in Mexico because the Mexicans were very hostile to the confederate states. And these seven confederate states what were they going to do in terms of international recognition? No European power would recognize a slave holding republic. Where are they going to get financing? Where are they going to get investment? And suddenly the slaves that are in these seven deep south states suddenly they find themselves in boarder states where they just go across the border and their free. They’re in another country. So it’s not likely that slavery would have lasted much longer. And I’ve had a lot of pushback on this Dr. Mohler because they say well, if slavery lasted a day longer it would have been a day too long for slavery and that’s why we needed the Civil War. I think you got to take a look at the long view. Was this emancipation significant in what African Americans got out of it? Certainly they got freedom. But it would take at least another century for African-Americans to gain the fruits of that freedom. Wouldn’t they have had a better chance to gain the fruits of that freedom had liberation occurred peacefully as it occurred in every other slave holding republic in the world?

Mohler: As an evangelical, I must tell you reading our book was somewhat difficult experience but also a very invigorating one intellectually because you force us to kind of look at ourselves in this. The distinction you make between northern evangelicals and southern evangelicals was I thought most compelling when you spoke about the different sense of the moral imperative event the theological imperative that animated them and in one sense the second great awakening especially in the north infused these northern evangelicals with the sense that they were literally doing the Lord’s work to infuse this evangelical sentiment for the abolition of slavery into the political process. Well, at the same time, if I’m not putting words into your mouth you’re suggesting that the southerners saw their own sense of the preservation of order and of a concern for the conversion of souls as their moral imperative. How do you explain this divergence between evangelicals in the north and in the south?

Goldfield: I think you have to go back in time and Mark Knoll has a wonderful book called America’s God which I think answers your question in much more detail than I can. But I think you have to go back particularly to New England. The Puritans and the Congregationalists that came out from the Puritan movement and many of the Protestant denominations in the northeast and New England always emphasized this societal aspect of their religion. In other words, it wasn’t always centered on the individual, but it was also centered on the society as well. And if you look at many of the utopian communities that grew up as a result of the second great awakening almost all of these utopian communities, these experiments and different ways of social living almost all of these communities existed up north not in the south. In the south evangelicals were overwhelmingly concerned with individual conversion. They weren’t interested in beating on the Catholic Church or on Roman Catholics. They weren’t interested injecting and infusing their political process with evangelical religion. They were mainly and primarily concerned with saving individual souls and converting them to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mohler: In your book you deal with for instance the revolutionary events of 1848 and one of the things I appreciated about your book and it’s pretty massive in its scope is how you tied together all these different events in ways I had not before encountered in a single monograph where you pulled together all these different causative effects and influences in the life of a nation. You really do answer you own question—was the Civil War inevitable? If the Civil War had no happened what would you have hoped for?

Goldfield: I would have hoped for eventually that slavery as we talked earlier that slavery would have ended. In fact Abraham Lincoln through most of his political career was a member of the American Colonization Society a group that looked to liberate slaves, compensate the masters for the slaves, and then ship the slaves to Africa or the Caribbean. Eventually he realized that shipping four million human beings to a continent that they had no clue about was not very feasible, it was not feasible financially, it was not feasible from the point of view of the slaves, nor would any African nation be interested in accepting four million human beings all of a sudden. So from Lincoln’s perspective this was not viable. But even during the Civil War he put forward compensation packages he wound up compensating the slave owners in the District of Columbia where of course the federal government had direct jurisdiction and as late as February of 1865 with just a few months before the war ended he offered his friend Alexander Stevens a deal where the Emancipation Proclamation could be delayed and some form of compensation could be made to the masters. I think that the problem with war Dr. Mohler is that for white southerners every time they saw a black person they saw the reason for their own degradation, for the destruction that was around them, and for the loss of life that occurred. Every time a white northerner saw a black person he saw this same sense of loss, the same upheaval that occurred and the same disruption that the war engendered up north. And so there was resentment. Of course wars definitely breed resentment this is one of the messages of my book war has unintended consequences. And the Civil War certainly had a great many unintended consequences not only for the soldiers who died and the millions who mourned their loss but also for the soldiers who came home maimed in mind and body. The first treatise on what we call today post traumatic stress disorder –PTSD, was first written in 1876 and it concerned Civil War veterans and what they were going through. These were civilian armies you had a very small standing professional army in 1861. These were civilians from small towns and farms across the country north and south who had never experienced the carnage that occurred during this very horrible war. And I would like readers to come away from my book asking the question was there a better way that these results, that is the salvation of the union and the liberation of slaves, was there a better way this could have come about?

Mohler: Now it’s somewhat unfair to ask a historian this question but on the other hand as much as it may be unfair it’s also just about inevitable. Could you then translate what you have learned from this project into the contemporary moment?

Goldfield: Yes, it’s interesting when I first started writing this book back in 2006, our government was not nearly as dysfunctional as it seems today. And one of the concerns I have is that again our political process governs best from the center. And the sense of moderation certainly you have people in conflict over various ideas but the sense of demonization of your opponent both on the right and on the left really troubles me because that’s what you have in the 1850’s and early 1860’s. The other thing is that right now as we speak we are involved in three wars of choice. Not three wars of necessity and I think that if we do the Civil War as a war of choice you can see the unintended consequences of these wars. And they’re not central to our national security and as far as the Civil War is concerned I think the slaves would have been liberated anyway and perhaps their civil and political rights would have been given much earlier and the Union would have been saved regardless of whether there was a war or not. So wars not only have unintended consequences but peace can have better consequences than worse.

Mohler: Professor David Goldfield thank you for joining me today for Thinking In Public . That was a most stimulating conversation.

Goldfield: Thank you. I really enjoyed it Dr. Mohler.

Mohler: All told America Aflame by Professor David Goldfield is over 600 pages long. It takes him that many pages to convey his thesis and to relate the narrative into which his thesis has been placed. Readers are going to find a most fascinating read. Professor Goldfield is a good writer as well as a very competent historian. He has provided here a provocative thesis but he also provides a narrative that helps us to understand not only how he intends to argue for his thesis about the causation of the Civil War but it helps us to understand the meaning of the war as it actually did happen the meaning of the war before it happened as it was conducted and not only in the period immediately after the war but even until our own day. This is the kind of history that leads to asking the most profound kinds of questions. And we as evangelical Christians need to learn how to lean into the asking of those questions even when awkwardly enough those questions now being asked about us.

The experience of reading Professor David Goldfield’s new book America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation is not going to be easy for American evangelicals. And that includes both evangelicals in the north and in the south who are likely to read at least in historic terms of significant distinction and the kind of impulses that created the context for the Civil War. Now Professor Goldfield’s thesis is incredibly controversial. It’s controversial among many historians because of his argument that the Civil War could have been avoided. That had there not been the infusion of all this evangelical energy and the moralism that came with it that the Civil War might have been avoided through the right conduct of statesmen in the political process. But instead he argues the infusion of all this evangelical fervor into this very hot political conflict meant that the political system just couldn’t handle the energy. Couldn’t resolve the issues compromise was thus impossible. For an evangelical theologian or historian reading this book is going to be well an experience that can be best described perhaps as dialogical. You’re going to have a conversation with this book. After all, it’s written about us. It’s written about our own evangelical roots and whether you’re in the north or in the south in terms of your own historical placement. Well evangelicals are going to read this understanding that this is a very interesting perspective not only on the Civil War and in America in the 19th century but about who we are, and what we believe, and why this matters.

Let me get right to the most burning issue here. Of course we have to look back to this period and we have to look at the evangelical impulses in the north and understand that this professor has a very credible point that the fusion of this evangelical impulse with the political process led to a political breakdown and yet at the same time we have to look at his argument about the South. Where a concern for conversion meant that there was a radical separation between the concern for individual and for the individuals of the part of the larger society. In other words, here you have someone external to the evangelical movement looking at evangelicals in the North and in the South and seeing problems in both places. But seeing the energy coming from the North as that which basically led to the precipitous events that led to the strife that became the Civil War.

Now when we came to the end of the discussion I asked Professor Goldfield if indeed the Civil War could have been avoided. He said he was confident at least in terms of the historian’s hope that it might have been prevented had this infusion and fervor not overblown and overcome the political system. But I ask him then to come to the contemporary period and speak of the lessons that should have been learned from this and at that point he spoke again of the fact that the political process requires well first of all as he said a commitment to a constitutional order and then to an orderly process of democratic governance that governs from the center, where if you do have any kind of democratic or republican form of government, all legislation has to come. It has to come from the center or by definition it is not going to become law.

Now clearly for today’s evangelicals there are some very serious issues of concern for us to think about. First of all let’s go backwards in time. Let’s go backwards to his analysis of America in the 19th century and the influence of evangelicals. How could it have been otherwise he asked about the Civil War, how could it have been otherwise we may ask about evangelical faith, evangelical conviction, and how that is translated into the public square. Here we find some very, very difficult issues to face. One of the most difficult for evangelicals is explaining how persons who were committed to the same gospel, to the same scriptures, to the same Lord, could come to such different understandings of the application of this gospel and its implications to the cultural order, to the social order around us. Now I think Professor Goldfield is absolutely correct when he points out the incredible distinction in terms of the understanding of the implications of the gospel between northern and southern evangelicals. And it was northern evangelicals, and this is an interesting historical argument ,who basically pioneered the infusion of this kind of evangelical piety into the political process. Over the issue of slavery and of course they had a righteous cause. The question is by what means is that righteous cause to be furthered and that’s where at least in terms of Professor Goldfield’s argument it appears that the political system simply couldn’t handle the pressure and it broke down.

Now as we go from that history to the present we have to ask the question about many of our current issues in the great cultural divide described by some such as University of Virginia’s sociologist James Davidson Hunter as a culture war. Are we now in a sort of Civil War? Not so much between the North and the South or the East and the West where we’re no longer in terms of the determinative issues separated by geography and sectionalism but over the most basic moral and worldview issues having to do with the great cultural conflicts of our time. There’s a sense in which this new book by Professor David Goldfield serves as a warning that the political process can contain only so much fervor. And that in the end the political process can only operate in terms of some kind of movement from the center. Some kind of agreement that takes place that involves compromise. Well here’s where evangelical Christians are going to have to do some very hard and serious thinking as we look to the future. Living in a constitutional order in a secular society means that our arguments now are going to sound even a bit more distant from the center than they did back in the 19th century. Evangelicals who are committed to the total truthfulness of the word of God, to the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ and to the moral implications of the gospel are going to have an ongoing challenge. Perhaps a challenge even more severe than that faced by evangelicals in the 1940’s and 1850’s to understand how we are rightly to translate these moral convictions into issues of public policy in the public square in the social order. Professor Goldfield is a historian he offers us a bold thesis and a very compelling narrative about America in the 19th century after all the subtitle of his book is “how the civil war created a nation.” We’re now a part of that nation and evangelicals in the 21st century, in the North and the South and the East and the West, all across North America are going to have to come to a new understanding of how we are to engage the social order. How we are to be salt and light in a world that after all desperately needs salt and light and in a nation that is governed by a constitutional order.

These are ongoing issues that are going to take every bit of what evangelicals can bring in terms of intellectual engagement and ongoing conversation. Professor David Goldfield’s book may be a strange catalyst to lead American evangelicals to ask some of the most basic questions that for us have to be answered not historically but theologically and biblically. In one sense then we have been thrown quite a challenge by this book the great question is are we up to that challenge? Here’s one evangelical who hopes the answer to that is yes.

I want to thank my guest Dr. David Goldfield for thinking with me today. Before signing off I want to invite you to the upcoming D3 youth conference being held on the campus of Southern Seminary this summer June 27-30. Designed to develop student’s understanding of leadership, worldview, and missions, D3 will be a summer experience filled with learning and growing opportunities for high school students serious about following Christ. I’m excited to have Eric Bancroft and Army Major Jeff Struecker joining me to speak as well as musical guest Flame and the Hoffmans. For more information visit sbts.edu. You can gain more information by going to my website at albertmohler.com. For more information on all things related to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary just go to sbts.edu. For information about Boyce college go to boycecollege.com. Thank you for joining me today for Thinking In Public. Until next time, keep thinking. I’m Albert Mohler.