Religion 304 W: History of Christianity in America

Samford University, Department of Religion, Fall 2003


Mon., Wed., Fri. 10:30 to 11:35am, 320 Chapman Hall

course website:


David R. Bains, Assistant Professor
  325 Chapman Hall, phone: 726-2879, email:
Office Hours:  Mon. 4:05-5:00pm, Tues. & Thurs.  2-4pm.  If you cannot meet during these times, please let me know and we can set up an alternative.


Course Description:

This course surveys the history of Christianity in the United States and the colonies that preceded it.  Special attention will be given to the relationship between Christianity and American culture, the changing shape of American denominations, and the role of race and gender in American religion.


Learning Objectives:

The student will be able to:

1)     Describe the development of Christianity in America

2)     Evaluate the significance of ideas, movements, and events in American religious history

3)     Interpret primary and secondary sources on American religion


Required Texts:

Frey, Sylvia R., and Betty Wood. Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to 1830. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

McGreevy, John T. Catholicism and American Freedom: A History. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.

Williams, Peter W.  America's Religions:  From Their Origins to the Twenty-first Century Bloomington: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Winston, Diane. Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Reading Packet


Course Requirements:

Two mid-term examinations 20% each for a total of 40%.  Study guides will be provided at least a week prior to each exam.  Sample study guides from previous semesters may be available on the course web page.  Exams will include objective questions, detailed term identifications, and essays.

Final examination 25%  Same format as the mid-terms.

Essays, class discussion, class attendance. 35%  While there will be many lectures, this course revolves around the reading and discussion of primary and secondary sources.  There will be approximately 5 assigned essays of 3 to 5 pages that will ask you to offer your own analysis of sources read and discussed in class.  Some of these may require some additional reading and research.  Each of these essays will be worth at least 5% of your final grade.  Note: The option exists to write an original research paper in lieu of 2-3 of the assigned essays.  See the instructor to discuss this possibility.  Students choosing this option will still be responsible for the assigned reading in discussions and on tests.
            In order to participate in discussion, you must do the assigned reading.  If you are not prepared for discussion, your grade will suffer.  I don't expect you to understand everything you read; that is, after all, one of the reasons to discuss it.  You should come to every class, however, with questions about what you didn't understand and about the implications of what you did understand.  You should always bring the assigned reading to class.
            Other short assignments and quizzes may be given.


Academic Integrity:

Students are expected to observe high standards of intellectual integrity. See the relevant section of the Student Handbook and the University Catalog.  Study groups are encouraged, but all work submitted in this class must be your own.  Suspected lapses in academic integrity will be investigated and adjudicated in accordance with the University's values policy.

For information on the format of papers and citations see my handout "Guidelines for Essays in Religion."


Attendance and Grading / Department of Religion:

Roll will be taken each day.  In a MWF class a student may miss six classes without penalty.  After the seventh absence your final grade will be reduced one letter grade.  After the ninth absence the student will receive an FA for the course.  Three tardies count as one absence.  If you come in after your name is called, you will need to notify your professor at the end of the class period, or else the tardy will become an absence.  The Department of Religion grading scale is:

A= 100%-95%, A- = 94%-92%

B+ = 91%-88%, B = 87% - 85%, B- = 84%-82%

C+ = 81% - 78%, C = 77%-74%, C- = 73% - 70%

D+ = 69% - 66%, D = 65% - 63%, D- = 62% -60%

F = below 59%


Papers that are turned in after the set due date will be penalized one full letter grade for each week that they are late.


Samford University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students with disabilities who seek accommodations must make their request by contacting Disability Support Services located in Counseling Services on the lower level

of Pittman Hall, or call 726-4078.  A faculty member will grant reasonable accommodations only upon written notification from Disability Support Services.


Course Outline (Subject to Revision):

This outline lists the order of subjects and readings in the class, but generally not the dates.  These will be announced as we go.  It is your responsibility, however, to make sure that you stay ahead.  Study questions or introductory lectures will be provided for many of the primary sources.

Readings not marked "Williams," "Frey and Wood," "McGreevy," or "Winston" will be found in the packet.

[Bracketed readings are strongly recommended, but not strictly required.]

1         Introduction: "History and the Past," "Christianity and America"

Reading:  Williams, 1-10

2         European Christianity ca. 1600

2.1        Established Church and Dissenting Sects

2.2        Christendom and Christianization

2.3        Traditions / Confessional Groups

2.4        Wars of Religion

Reading for August 27: Williams [pp. 55-64], 64-102

3         Who's Where?  Patterns of Settlement

4         Puritanism in America, Williams, 103-118

4.1        Experience—discerning Visible Saints

Reading: Williams103-118
Shepard, Thomas. Thomas Shepard Confessions. ed. George Selement and Bruce C. Woolley. (Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1981): 60-80.
Trent, Robert F. “'The Deuil Came Upon me Like a Lyon': A 1697 Cambridge Deathbed Narrative.” Connecticut Historical Society 48 (1983): 114-119.

4.2        Experience over Office--Anne Hutchison and Antinomianism

Reading: Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchison before the Court at Newtown reprinted in The Antinomian Controversy, 1636-1638, ed. David D. Hall, (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990), 333-348.

4.3        A Puritan Paradox: Pure Church and Holy Commonwealth

Reading: "Cambridge Platform" (1648) reprinted in American Christianity: An Historical Interpretation with Representative Documents, ed. H. Shelton Smith, Robert T. Handy, and Lefferts A. Loetscher, vol. 1 (New York: Scribner's, 1963): 128-138
Roger Williams to John Endicott (1651) A Documentary History of Religion in America, ed. Edwin S. Gaustad  vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993): 114-117
John Winthrop, "A Model of Christian Charity," reprinted in American Christianity  1:97-102

Puritan Essay: The Puritans placed a premium on experiential knowledge, biblical truth, a pure church, and a Christian commonwealth.  One historian has described them as "ambidextrous" in their ability to balance these seemingly conflicting claims.  Based on the documents you have read, explain how you see the Puritans balancing, or failing to balance, their several concerns.

4.4        New England Puritans, founders of America?

5         The Religious Diversity of the Middle Colonies

Reading:  Williams, pp. 119-135, 153-163

6         Anglican South

6.1        Difficulties of Establishment, Reading: Williams, 105-107

6.2        Religion in Africa

Reading: Frey and Wood,. intro and chapter 1, Williams, 23-28,

6.3        African Religion in America

Reading: Frey and Wood, chapter 2

6.4        Anglican Missions to Slaves

Reading: Frey and Wood, chapter 3

7         Missions to Native Americans, Williams, 163-174

8         The Emergence of Evangelicalism—The Second Great Awakening

Reading: Williams, 135-147, 153-158

8.1        Trans-Atlantic Evangelicalism

8.2        Great Awakening in New England

Reading: Jonathan Edwards, "A Divine and Supernatural Light" (1734)
Jonathan Edwards, "A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God" (selections)

8.3        "Separates" and the Emergence of Baptists

8.4        Methodists

8.5        The Awakening and African Americans, Frey and Wood, chapter 4

8.6        Women in the Great Awakening

8.7        Interpreting the Great Awakening

Reading: Harry Stout, "Religion, Communications, and the Idealological Origins of the American Revolution," William and Mary Quaterly 34 (1977): 591-4
and Jon Butler, "Enthusiasm Described and Decried: The Great Awakening as Interpretive Fiction," Journal of American History 69 (Sept. 1982): 305-325, both reprinted in Jon Butler and Harry S. Stout, eds., Religion in American History: A Reader (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 88-128.
Great Awakening Essay: Questions at the end of first paragraph on page 88.


MID TERM 1: September 29

9         Reason and Revolution

Reading: Williams, 148-153, 175-184
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, selection from Query XIV and all of Queries XVII to XIX ed. William Peden (New York: Norton, 1954), 137-149, 157-165.

9.1        Varieties of Enlightenment in America Christianity

9.2        Religious Freedom and Disestablishment

Reading:  James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance, in Documentary History of Religion in America, 1:262-267.
Issac Backus on Religious Liberty in Documentary History of Religion in America, 1:267-270.

9.2.1       Deism and Latitudinarianism

9.2.2       Unitarianism

Reading: William Ellery Channing. "Baltimore Sermon," in American Christianity 1:493-502.

9.2.3       Common Sense Philosophy

Reading: Thomas Campbell. "Declaration and Address," in American Christianity  1:578-586.
Charles Hodge, Introduction to Systematic Theology, reprinted in Mark A. Noll, The Princeton Theology, 1812-1921: Scripture, Science, and Theological Method from Archibald Alexander to Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1983), 117-131.

9.3        Varieties of Rational Christianity

Enlightenment Essay: TBA

10      The Second Great Awakening and the Formation of Evangelical America

10.1     The Frontier Revivals

Reading:  Williams, pp. 181-190. 226-235

10.2     Growth and Fragmentation of Methodism

10.3     Revivalism and Theology

Reading: Nathaniel William Taylor, Advice to Clergy reprinted in Issues in American Protestantism:  A Documentary History from the Puritans to the Present, ed. Robert L. Ferm (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1969), 138-148.

10.4     Christianity Under Slavery,

Reading:  Frey and Wood, chapters 4-7 (pp. 118-214)

10.5     Voluntary Principle and the Benevolent Empire

Reading:  Williams, 190-208, [208-215]

10.6     Immigration and Religious Diversity, Reading:  Williams, 55-64, 292-307

10.6.1    Patterns of Immigration

10.6.2    Ethnicity and Religion

10.6.3    Development of American Catholicism

10.6.4    Presence of Eastern Orthodoxy

10.6.5    Catholic Immigration and Nativism,

Reading:  McGreevy, 7-42

10.7     Romanticism and Theology

Reading: Emerson, "Divinity School Address" (1838) reprinted in Sources of Christian Thought in America  ed. by Mark G. Toulouse and James O. Duke (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997), 189-200.

10.8     Domesticity

Reading:  Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, (1852; reprinted New York: Signet, 1981), chapter 13 & 16.

10.9     Christian Debates on Slavery

Reading:  George D. Armstrong, The Christian Doctrine of Slavery (New York: Charles Scribner, 1857), 131-148.
Albert Barnes, The Church and Slavery (Philadelphia: Parry & McMillan, 1857), 33-40.
McGreevy, 43-90

Slavery Essay: TBA

10.10 The Emergence of Mormonism

Reading:  Williams, pp. 235-243

11      The Age of Empire and Business

Readings: Josiah Strong, Our Country (New York: American Home Missionary Society, 1885), Chapters 4,5, and 13, (pp.30-59. 159-180.)
Williams, 245-268,
McGreevy, 91-126

11.1     Holiness and the Businessman's Revival

11.2     Foreign Mission


Mid Term 2: November 1

11.3     The City and the Social Gospel

Readings:  McGreevy, 127-165
Russell H. Conwell, "Acres of Diamonds" in Ferm, 235-242
Walter Rauschenbusch "The Social Aims of Jesus" in Ferm, 242-252
Winston, Red Hot and Righteous

11.4     Genteel Evangelicalism

11.5     Victorian and Commercialism

12      New Fractures in Evangelical Protestantism

12.1     The Fundamentalist Controversy I, Readings:  Williams, 269-277, 282-292

12.1.1    Diverging paths in the Nineteenth-Century (to be discussed Friday, April 26)

Readings: Henry Ward Beecher, "The Study of Human Nature," reprinted in American Protestant Thought in the Liberal Era, ed. William R. Hutchison (1968; reprinted Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1985). 37-45;
Hodge and Warfield both in American Christianity 2: 324-332

12.1.2     Conflict in the Twentieth-Century

Readings: Shailer Matthews, "The Affirmations of Faith," in American Protestant Thought, 88-95
J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism selection in American Christianity  2:345-349,
Reinhold Niebuhr, "As Deceivers, Yet True," in Beyond Tragedy, (New York: Scribner's, 1937), 1-24.


Essay: Modern Theology


Note:  There may be additional primary source documents assigned for the sections below.

13      Toward Post-Protestant America

Readings:  McGreevy, 166-217

13.1     Neo-Orthodoxy, Ecumenism, and the Protestant Establishment

Readings:  Williams, 343-375

13.2     "Neo-Evangelicals"

13.3     The Pentecostal Tradition

Readings: Williams, 277-282

13.4     New Immigration and Increasing Diversity

14      African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement

Readings:  Williams, 322-327. 440-448

14.1     Progressive Era

14.2     Great Migration

14.3     Nationalism

14.4     Civil Rights Movement

14.5     Legacy: Religion as a Place of Contest

15      "Culture Wars" and Beyond

Readings:  Williams, 375-389; McGreevy, 216-296

15.1     Fundamentalism in the Reagan Era

15.2     Changing Shape of Denominationalism


Final Exam--Monday, December 8, 10:30am  [The final exam will be given at the time specified in the Class Schedule for this term.  Sometimes I make typos.  Double-check me to make sure the date I've given here is right before making any travel plans.]