Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy by Paul C. Gutjahr (Oxford University Press) Charles Hodge (1797-1878) was one of nineteenth-century America's leading theologians, owing in part to a lengthy teaching career, voluminous writings, and a faculty post at one of the nation's most influential schools, Princeton Theological Seminary. Surprisingly, the only biography of this towering figure was written by his son, just two years after his death. Paul Gutjahr's book, therefore, is the first modern critical biography of a man some have called the "Pope of Presbyterianism." Hodge's legacy is especially important to American Presbyterians. His brand of theological conservatism became vital in the 1920s, as Princeton Seminary saw itself, and its denomination, split. The conservative wing held unswervingly to the Old School tradition championed by Hodge, and ultimately founded the breakaway Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The views that Hodge developed, refined, and propagated helped shape many of the central traditions of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American evangelicalism. Hodge helped establish a profound reliance on the Bible among evangelicals, and he became one of the nation's most vocal proponents of biblical inerrancy. Gutjahr's study reveals the exceptional depth, breadth, and longevity of Hodge's theological influence and illuminates the varied and complex nature of conservative American Protestantism.
On a brisk April morning in 1872, over five hundred former students, family, friends, and colleagues congregated to honor Charles Hodge on his fiftieth teaching anniver-sary at Princeton Theological Seminary.' Some had traveled from as far away as Cali-fornia, Texas, and Ireland to attend the event. As the throngs packed into the pews and crowded to obtain standing room in Princeton's First Presbyterian Church, speaker after speaker praised the seventy-five-year-old Hodge, paying tribute to a man already widely acknowledged as the Pope of Presbyterianism and the "Nestor" of American theology. With one voice they anointed him the greatest Reformed theologian their country had ever produced.
Hodge's semicentennial celebration offers but a glimpse of the immense influence he exercised over nineteenth-century American Protestantism. During his fifty-six-year career at Princeton, he taught over three thousand seminarians. No American professor had taught more graduate students. He extended his influence through his aggressive and savvy use of the country's growing print culture by founding the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review in 1826, a quarterly theological journal he directed for nearly five decades. By editing over one hundred and twenty issues and contributing more than two hundred articles to its pages, Hodge established himself as a major voice in the most important religious controversies of his day. By the time he left the journal to others in 1872, it stood as the second oldest quarterly publication in the United States and enjoyed so great an international reputation that the British Quarterly Review called it "beyond all question the greatest purely theological Review that has ever been published in the English tongue."
In addition to his articles for the Repertory, Hodge completed several longer book-length works: commentaries on four New Testament books including a world-renowned volume on Romans, the first extended critical analysis of Transcendentalism, a major history of the American Presbyterian Church, a landmark critique of Darwin-ism, the immensely popular devotional The Way of Life, and his magnum opus, a three-volume Systematic Theology. Almost all these works are still in print today, and his Systematic Theology remains a foundational text in the study of American systematic theology.
While Hodge towered in the theological circles of his day, his fame has dimmed as the years have passed. When the great men of nineteenth-century American Chris-tianity are named, figures such as Charles Finney, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Bushnell, Joseph Smith Jr., Henry Ward Beecher and D.L. Moody come quickly to mind. Charles Hodge does not. Biographies are but one indicator of who perseveres in the American religious imagination. In the past fifty years, three biographies of Bush-nell have appeared, five of Emerson, six of Finney, and a staggering seven of Joseph Smith Jr. Only a single biography exists on Hodge, completed just two years after his death in 1878 by his son Archibald Alexander Hodge. No one has deemed Hodge wor-thy of his own biography for more than one hundred and thirty years.
Within this biographical lacuna, opinions have varied as to Hodge's importance. Some have claimed him as America's greatest theologian, while others see him as little more than a derivative thinker who simply taught and disseminated the ideas of others. Still others have sounded darker notes, believing him to be a pro-slavery racist whose every trace should be erased.' Whatever judgments exist, the truth remains that in the life of Charles Hodge one finds a stunning panoramic view of nineteenth-century Protestantism. His story touches many, if not all, of the most critical developments in the American Christianity of his era, and whether one admires or despises Hodge, there is no denying that he exercised a profound influence in his day with lasting consequences after his death. As one historian has noted, without Hodge "American Presbyterianism and American Calvinism would have received an entirely different shape."
Through his heartfelt personal piety, encyclopedic intellect, and position of influence at the country's most important Presbyterian seminary, Hodge spent his nearly-sixty-year career crafting a uniquely American strain of Reformed theology. Mainly through his writings in the Repertory, but in numerous other venues as well, he brought his confessional beliefs to bear on issues as diverse as slavery, temperance, presidential politics, war, international diplomacy, advances in science, educational reform, and domestic and foreign missions. He firmly believed in the rational faculties and that no realm of creation stood beyond the reach and essential insights offered by the Bible and theology. His tender heart offered a sympathetic and optimistic, yet thoroughly conservative, type of Calvinism, which encouraged the cultivation of personal piety and eschewed such harsh doctrines as infant damnation. He believed the world was improving and that God wanted to save more people than he damned. Convinced that there was only a single human species, Hodge's sympathy extended across cultural and racial divides, making every person equally capable of enjoying Christ's promise of salvation.
While many today may be unaware of Hodge and the enduring influence of his theological legacy, his ghost lingers throughout contemporary American Christianity. This biography is based on the simple premise that few Americans can match the depth, breadth, and longevity of Hodge's theological influence, and perhaps no single figure is better able to help one appreciate the immensely powerful and hugely complex nature of conservative American Protestantism in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries than the deeply pious, keenly intelligent, and yet largely forgotten Charles Hodge.
Even allowing for the hyperbole that so often fills funeral orations and obituary notices, it was clear that Hodge's contemporaries considered him to be the leading conservative theologian of his day, calling him "one of the ripest scholars and most comprehensive thinkers that America" had ever produced.' Yet today, Hodge has drifted to the outer margins of the American religious history, a largely forgotten and forgettable figure. Given this disparity between Hodge's time and our own, one wonders whether Hodge is as totally absent from the American Protestant landscape as might first appear. More simply put: Does Hodge have a theological legacy, and if he does, what might it be?
The answer to such a query is by necessity complex, and perhaps the best place to begin is in looking at the reunion of the Old and New Schools in 1869. Hodge had stood solidly against the reunion because he felt that while the two factions shared certain common cultural and political affinities, they did not agree on key points of doctrine. Hodge feared that nothing but vitriolic and hurtful discord would eventu-ally result from a reunion that lacked any mutually-agreed-upon theological founda-tion. In many ways, his dour forecasts of a Presbyterian unified future proved prophetic.
On the heels of the reunion, both the Old and New Schools enacted various ventures intended to bind the two groups together. Emblematic of such endeavors was the renaming and reconceptualizing of the Princeton Review. A. A. Hodge joined with Charles Briggs of Union Theological Seminary to inaugurate a new, more inclusive journal called The Presbyterian Review in 1880. The journal was intended as a place where the Old and New Schools might come together to discuss the key theological and ecclesiastical issues facing the denomination as Hodge solicited articles from the conservative Old School perspective and Briggs did the same for the New School.
Even with these harmonious intentions, The Presbyterian Review's essays became ever-more-rancorous, as did the discussions they catalyzed. Its articles captured many of the longstanding tensions between the two schools. Conservative Old Schoolers positioned themselves as the guardians and preservers of historic Reformed orthodoxy. New Schoolers saw themselves as more modern in their impulses and more ready to strike mediating positions between historic orthodoxy and new cultural settings and scientific discoveries. These two basic impulses, conservative and modernizing, could not hold together in the coming years, and Princeton Seminary in the opening decades of the twentieth century became one of the great battlegrounds between these two factions.
The Old School patriarch Archibald Alexander had symbolized the fixed nature of historic orthodoxy on his deathbed by giving Hodge an ornately carved bone cane, entreating his younger colleague to leave it to his successor in like manner as "kind of symbol of orthodoxy."' Hodge treasured the cane and Alexander's theolog-ically conservative vision for the Seminary throughout his long career. While Hodge did not literally pass off the walking stick at his death, he along with the Seminary's trustees metaphorically gave the symbolic cane to Archie when they appointed him his father's successor in 1878. In this way, Archie came to embody Hodge's theological legacy.
Upon Archie's death, the cane once again symbolically passed from one conservative hand to another, this time to Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, a former student of Hodge's and the most prolific and brilliant of those who would take up Hodge's theological mantle at Princeton. Warfield taught at the Seminary for thirty-four years. While there, he instructed 2,700 students and published dozens of monographs, essays, and short reflections, as well as editing The Presbyterian and Reformed Review (later renamed The Princeton Theological Review) for over twenty years. Although Warfield did not agree with Hodge on every issue (as seen in his great respect for Darwin), he became one of the most vigorous and thoughtful defenders of Princeton's conservative brand of Reformed theology. His views were aptly and succinctly captured when he wrote: "Calvinism is just religion in its purity. We have only, therefore, to conceive of religion in its purity, and that is Calvinism."
When Warfield died in 1921, the cane of orthodoxy metaphorically passed once again, this time into the hands of one of Warfield's students, J. Gresham Machen, who had joined the Seminary faculty in 1906 and became its Assistant Professor of the New Testament in 1914. In the coming years, Machen became the Seminary's foremost defender of its long-held conservative notions of historic Reformed orthodoxy and published influential books championing the tradition such as The Origin of Paul's Religion (1924 and Christianity and Liberalism (1923).
Machen became convinced that the modern and conservative elements of Christianity would be best served if separated, and Princeton Seminary became a microcosm of these larger tensions in American Presbyterianism more specifically and American Protestantism more generally. As the Seminary increasingly welcomed into its faculty ranks more progressive Christian thinkers, Machen felt that the school had betrayed its theological heritage. In 1929, he helped lead a group of disgruntled conservative Princeton professors to leave the Seminary and found Westminster Semi-nary in Philadelphia. Eventually expelled from the American Presbyterian Church for his conservative views and the relentless conviction with which he pursued them, Machen proved pivotal in the founding of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the United States. Machen and his compatriots built much of their rebellion against Princeton and the organization of a rival conservative seminary on an unwavering commitment to the conservative, Old School theological tradition championed by Charles Hodge.
In one sense then, Hodge's legacy moved from Princeton to the more conservative confines of Westminster Seminary, and from the American Presbyterian Church more generally to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Through their teaching and writing, Warfield and Machen also made Hodge a much-cited and respected figure in the growing Protestant Fundamentalist movement of the early twentieth century. Named for the twelve-volume paperback series called The Fundamentals (1910-1915), American Protestant Fundamentalism showed itself to be preoccupied in the opening decades of the twentieth century with matters of doctrine, a primary concern for Hodge and his successors. Even though many Fundamentalists did not agree with many of the age-old Princeton beliefs because of their dispensational pre-millennial propensities, they did appreciate Hodge's longstanding commitments to God's sovereignty, humanity's total depravity, the reality of miracles, and his view of the sacraments as signs not guarantees of God's salvation.
Perhaps most importantly, Fundamentalists adhered closely to the writings of both the younger and older Hodges, as well as B. B. Warfield, on the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture. Warfield was particularly important in this regard. Beginning with a landmark essay entitled "Inspiration" he coauthored with A. A. Hodge, Warfield spent his career carefully crafting a position on the inerrant nature of the scriptures in their original manuscripts.6 It was a line of thinking Charles Hodge had hinted at, but had not codified with Warfield's vigor. Warfield went so far as to declare in later writings that the weight of evidence was on others to disprove his theory on inerrancy by somehow discovering the original manuscripts to show him that they did indeed contain errors. As late as the 1970s, Warfield was still serving as a pivotal authority on the inerrant nature of scripture for Fundamentalists as they found themselves engaged in a "Battle for the Bible" with various wings of American Protestantism, a fight inspired by Harold Lindsell's book of the same name. Thus, Hodge's thoughts on biblical inspiration as popularized through Warfield's writings helped establish Hodge as a type of patron saint of inerrancy for countless twentieth-century Fundamentalist Bible colleges and seminaries.
While Hodge's thinking has been long revered in these more conservative circles, his theological legacy has by no means been confined there. The views Hodge developed, refined, and propagated helped shape many pivotal strains of Calvin-ism that run throughout a broader spectrum of twentieth- and twentieth-first-century American Christian evangelicalism." In this larger context, perhaps Hodge's most enduring influence came in his life's dual intellectual focus: a strict adherence to a brand of Calvinism interpreted through the Westminster Confession and the Enlightenment philosophical school known as Scottish Common Sense Realism.
Calvinism provided the backbone of all of Hodge's theology. Memorizing its central tenets as a boy through his study of the Westminster Catechism, Hodge remained solidly committed throughout his life to the confessional faith he learned as a youth. His theological thinking became the Calvinist plumb line not only for such important Presbyterian figures as Machen and Warfield, but for legions of conservative thinkers in a wide array of denominations from early Baptists such as James Boyce, the found-ing president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, to more recent conservative evangelical thinkers such as R. C. Sproul, John F. MacArthur, and John Piper.
Hodge had also been exposed early to Scottish Common Sense Realism and became an immensely influential disseminator of this philosophical school of thought among American Protestants. Scottish Realism provided Hodge with an unshakeable belief in the human ability to arrive at a right conception of the truth by using one's mind to sift through the evidence the world presented to one's senses. Hodge's twin convictions that sensory input was reliable and that God had provided clear clues to his presence in the world became cornerstone beliefs for much of twentieth-century American evangelical theology. The apologetics movement of the later twentieth century, where theologians like E. J. Carnell and popularizers like Josh McDowell held forth that the world carefully studied and rightly interpreted provided ample "evidence that demands a verdict" concerning the truth of Christ's teachings, is but one of the most vibrant continuations of a type of thinking Hodge was pivotal in weaving into the warp and woof of American Protestantism.
Hodge's Common Sense exaltation of the role and ability of reason in biblical interpretation helped establish a kind of extreme evidential, systematic biblicism in the decades following his life. Hodge considered the Bible to be humanity's primary storehouse of "truth which the theologian" must "collect, authenticate, arrange, and exhibit in their internal relation to each other." His work in systematizing and harmonizing various biblical texts had two long-lasting consequences. First, it laid the groundwork for countless evangelical theologians who followed him. Just one example can be found in the work of Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founding president of Dallas Theological Seminary, a bastion of American Dispensational theology, an evangelical theological tradition that owes much to Hodge's commitment to Common Sense Realism. Chafer seemingly channeled Hodge when he composed his eight-volume Systematic Theology (1947), where he defined theology as the "collecting, scientifically arranging, comparing, exhibiting, and defending of all facts from" the Bible and other manifestations of God's work.
Second, the centrality Hodge placed on the Bible and the confidence he put in the human mind's ability to understand it helped establish a pronounced sola scriptura ethos among twenty and twenty-first-century American evangelicals!' For them, there existed no higher praise than to be known like their Reformation and Puritan forefathers as a People of the Book, or, more commonly: "Bible-believing Christians." In a way that even Hodge would have tempered, large sections of American Protestants over the past century have emphasized the Bible—not religious traditions, creeds, or cultural variations—as the taproot of theology and the only right source of guidance on issues both religious and secular.
Hodge also relentlessly championed the view that all people could understand the Bible. In true Scottish Realist fashion, he argued that the language and meaning of the scriptures was "self-evident." Although the Bible could be difficult to under-stand at points, in it God had not given us a puzzle too obscure to understand. Hodge never turned from his belief that the Bible could be understood by all people simply by the "use of ordinary means." Everyone could be comforted by the fact that the Bible said what it meant and meant what it said. Hodge's debates with Horace Bushnell and Edwards Amasa Park provided a defensive bulwark utilized by a host of later conservative biblical commentators who argued against the need for advanced theological degrees and fancy philosophical training in order to under-stand the plain truths of the Bible. They agreed with Hodge that interpreting the Bible was a simple and straightforward process, accessible to any pious and fair-minded man or woman.
Finally, Hodge's work on the definition of the church and its role in politics still has admirers today. Hodge spent much of the last third of his life struggling with just how one might define the church and what responsibility the church and its members had in larger societal settings. The Civil War forced him to confront issues of civic involvement that reached far beyond traditional notions of the separate spheres of church and state. Hodge engaged in discussions that focused on what it meant to be both a Christian and an American citizen, offering a sophisticated—and sometimes contradictory—understanding of how the church was not in the business of legislating morality, yet there were moments when moral action was demanded of the church, tasking Christians with a sacred duty to "bring truth to bear on the minds of their fellow-citizens."
The figure of Hodge may have largely disappeared from the historical landscape of American religion, but his thinking has remained a vibrant part of a wide range of American Protestant theology up to the current day. Hodge was no theological innovator, and he reveled in the fact that he was not. He was, however, an articulate defender of a certain Reformed Calvinist theological tradition rooted in the interpretative prowess of such figures as Francis Turretin. More liberal American Protestantism may have little use for such traditional Augustinian Calvinism, but in many conservative theological circles Hodge's influence is still felt and his work is still appreciated. Countless American Christians still carry some portion of Princeton Seminary's cane of orthodoxy, many of whom having no idea that it was Charles Hodge who passed it on to them.
Mainline Christians and U.S. Public Policy: A Reference Handbook by Glenn Utter (Contemporary World Issues: ABC-CLIO) This reference work offers an overview of eight major mainline Protestant denominations along with the Catholic Church in the United States and the value positions they promote in the public arena, emphasizing the differences as well as similarities among them. The book presents these churches' historical development from colonial times to the present; the dominant values held by the leadership, clergy, and lay members; their social missions; and their efforts to influence public opinion and public policy on several social, economic, and political issues. An examination of the conversations, disagreements, and interest conflicts within each denomination provides insight into how value positions and the relationship between the denominations and the larger world have developed.
The first chapter offers a brief historical sketch of each denomination as well as a description of its organizational structure. Of particular interest is how members of the church may voice their views. In these religious groups, members' views often are strongly held and frequently relate to deep matters of faith in God, assumptions about the purpose of human life, and intensely held moral convictions about acceptable behavior. Therefore, not surprisingly, religious denominations historically have experienced divisions as well as strenuous efforts to bring about collaboration and union among groups that share common beliefs and concerns. As with any organization, Robert Michels's "iron law of oligarchy"—any organization, no matter how democratically structured, tends to be governed by a relatively small elite; the law is exemplified by the quote, "Who says organization says oligarchy"—confronts those in the mainline denominations who wish to express their concerns to the overall church. However, in recent decades an interesting phenomenon within mainline denominations has occurred that at least partially moderates the effects of Michels's law: dissident members have formed so-called renewal movements in order to create an effective voice in discussions of Christian doctrine, traditions, and policy.
Chapter 2 examines in greater detail various public policy questions on which the nine denominations treated here have taken public stands. The dominant value concerns of these churches become clearer as they are expressed in concrete issues such as capital punishment, embryonic stem-cell research, the war in Iraq, and abortion. There tends to be overall agreement among the denominations on many of these issues, but at times interesting distinctions become evident. Often European countries are contrasted with the United States regarding the level of religious belief and commitment among citizens. Chapter 3 provides a brief examination of the historical development of religious institutions and their present status in six European countries: England, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. With the exception of Poland, these countries, from which many U.S. mainline churches originated, have far lower rates of religious participation than the United States.
Chapter 4 presents a chronology of events related to the nine U.S. mainline denominations, beginning with the colonial period and ending with the most recent events affecting the status of these churches. Such historical events as the American Civil War, the two world wars, the Great Depression, and the Vietnam conflict often initiated debates and influenced the activities of the denominations. Chapter 5 offers biographical sketches of individuals associated with the mainline denominations, including historical figures such as Reinhold Niebuhr and Harry Emerson Fosdick, who contributed significantly to developing the character and values of mainline Christianity, and recent denomination leaders as well as more controversial persons, such as Daniel Berrigan, John Shelby Spong, and Joan Chittister, who have urged their denominations and the general public to take ever-greater steps toward modification of traditionally held values.
Chapter 6 presents data derived from recent studies of religious behavior in the United States, including membership trends and the attitudes of mainline clergy toward various types of political behavior. Importantly, all the mainline denominations treated here, with the exception of the Catholic Church, have experienced declining membership in recent decades. In addition to data summaries, the chapter provides selected documents that present the positions denominational and ecumenical organizations and members have taken on public policy questions. They defend their views in the context of often passionate expressions of value convictions. Chapter 7 lists selected organizations associated with mainline denominations. These organizations either operate in close concert with the denominations to further the goals of the church in the wider society, or strive to alter the doctrinal direction and policy stances of the denomination. Finally, Chapter 8 includes an annotated bibliography of selected print and nonprint resources that the reader may consult for further investigation of these institutions that have played, and continue to play, an important role in American social and political systems.
Some believe that the so-called religious left is ready to
reassert the political influence it wielded during the civil rights
era of the 1950s and 1960s, and that members of mainline
denominations are a potentially significant element in the
reemergence of a progressive religious movement. However, observers
question whether organizational success can be matched by increasing
numbers of adherents, given that mainline denominations generally
have been losing members in recent decades and have faced difficult
Godly Republic: A Centrist Blueprint for America's Faith-Based Future by John J. DiIulio Jr. (Wildavsky Forum: University of California Press) By 2006 the electoral and public policy victories conservative religious groups had achieved began to energize those who were uncomfortable with the emphasis on such issues as abortion and same-gender marriage at the expense of what were considered more pressing concerns, including poverty, affordable health care, and global warming. Many moderate and liberal Christians who opposed the Bush administration's policies, such as the Iraq war and budget cuts for social welfare programs, began to organize, forming such groups as Faith in Public Life, Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, and Faithful America.
The mainline denominations confront a variety of challenges to their role as influencers of U.S. public policy. While they generally have representational structures—including regular conventions—that allow grassroots members to be heard at the highest levels of the denominations, as well as organizational resources that facilitate communication with the larger society and planned activities to further their mission, disagreements involving deep religious beliefs and values can reduce the ability to convey to the larger society the stands of the denominations on particular issues. Most recently, strong disagreements over sexual matters have created serious divisions within many of the denominations. Utter examines in greater detail specific public policy issues on which many of the denominations have taken a public stand and identifies the factors that tend to contribute to, or limit, the prospect for success.
At a time when ever more Americans and their leaders, including most elected leaders pursuing 2008 presidential bids, either talk openly about faith in their lives or publicly profess various Christian beliefs and tenets, it is doubly important to get religion's historic place in the nation's civic life right. In the godly republic, we need not reinvent the republican wheel when it comes to fostering mutual civic forbearance on church-state issues, whether in general or between today's Bible-believing Christians and today's secular liberals. We need not reinvent it, but, as chapters 6 and 7 prescribe, we probably do need to retread it for our time.
If chapter 1 makes Madison a civic saint, chapter 2 begs indulgence for the modern-day Supreme Court. It answers two opposing camps of critics of the contemporary Supreme Court's First Amendment religion-clauses jurisprudence. Many orthodox sectarians insist that an antireligious "judicial tyranny" has spread all across the land, beginning with the Court's aforementioned 1962 decision declaring that public schoolchildren may not be required to recite state-sponsored prayers. But the facts support neither the "Godless schools" caricature nor associated claims that the federal courts have forbidden government support for religious institutions. At the other extreme, many orthodox secularists claim that the post-1980 Court has all but endorsed religious "establishments." But the facts about the rabidly anti-Catholic roots of the strict separation doctrine, and the reasoning behind the contemporary Court's ostensibly "pro-religion" decisions, reveal these criticisms to be no more well-founded than those of their main opponents.
The truth is that the Court and the wider federal judiciary have done a commendable, if far from perfect, job of enforcing church-state neutrality principles. Chapter 3 reveals that majority public opinion and bipartisan political sentiment are virtually at one with contemporary Court doctrine and the founders' church-state vision. Certain segments of elite opinion are plainly polarized on religion, government, and faith-based initiatives. But a careful look at the evidence on recent national election voting patterns and opinion dynamics suggests that most Americans are still religious pluralists, not antireligious zealots or religious purists. The same picture emerges from the post-1996 adoption by the federal government of grant-making rules that embody neutrality principles.
Chapter 4 examines the rise and demise of the original Bush plan that advocated greater federal support for community-serving religious nonprofit organizations. The plan unraveled, and the wider consensus was momentarily shattered, when an influential minority of orthodox Christian leaders made policy demands that violated settled constitutional limits on church-state collaboration. But Washington's move toward faith-based initiatives reflected, not created, the public consensus, and the political troubles of the "Bush faith bill" curtailed, not killed, the faith-based social services movement. Even without significantly more help from Washington, grassroots religious groups have continued to deliver social services to people in need. New public-private, religious-secular programs have continued to show special promise—programs like those that put loving adult mentors into the lives of some of the over two million children in America with incarcerated parents.
Chapter 5 summarizes the latest and best scientific evidence concerning the extent and efficacy of faith-based social services. It reprises and retests, in light of fresh and reliable empirical data, several concepts that I first brought into public discourse in the 199os. Whether measured by association memberships, philanthropy, or volunteering, most "social capital" in America is actually "spiritual capital" supplied by religious institutions that serve nonmembers without regard to religion, race, or socioeconomic status.
Urban community-serving religious nonprofits, especially ones led and staffed by inner-city African Americans and Latinos, are the backbone of America's faith-based social services sector and our most underresourced and underappreciated repositories of "bridging spiritual capital." Chapter 5 documents that the vast majority of all community-serving religious nonprofits are faith-based, not faith-saturated.
That is, they are motivated by faith, but they serve people without regard to religion; they do not hire only people who share their particular religious views; and they are ready and willing to work within ecumenical, interfaith, religious-secular, and public-private partnerships. Most are not at all adverse to seeking federal grants. Most are eager to receive technical assistance and capacity-building support from government agencies and secular nonprofit organizations. With or without public or private partners, faith-based organizations' one proven civic comparative advantage is mobilization of volunteers.
Presently, there is no credible research to prove that religious nonprofits that emphasize spiritual transformation succeed where other, religiously motivated or wholly secular programs fail. However, as chapter 5 explains, a sizable body of scientific literature suggests that one or more of three "faith factors" may be associated with many positive social and health outcomes. As it turns out, Franklin was right in believing that, under certain conditions, religion can elicit desirable social behavior, lead to better physical and mental health, and render believers and nonbelievers alike more inclined to help others in need, no matter who they are.
To paraphrase the greatest nineteenth-century foreign observer of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, the world is not led by long or learned demonstrations. Even if I am right about Madison and the founders' faithful consensus, the contemporary Court's approach, recent policy dynamics and administrative developments, and the science of the subject, it is all mere academic musing unless the nation's first "faith czar" can also suggest how we might keep future church-state debates from triggering pitched legal and legislative battles between religious and secular political factions.
Chapter 6 discusses the godly republic's faith-based future, and how deep differences between evangelical Christians and secular liberal elites could be aired and resolved in a more public-spirited fashion than they have been in the recent past. It uses as a case study a live federal court case involving a major evangelical Christian ministry on whose board I once served. It outlines and illustrates three quasi-religious principles for civic engagement on the most contentious church-state questions. And it concludes by emphasizing the one thing on which most people of good civic faith should be able to agree, whatever their stand on religion's public role: America still has a significant poverty problem.
My plea is that we will not permit ideological, political, or other differences to delay, diminish, or derail efforts to help those whom Jesus called "the least of these" among us. We must not substitute cynical partisan gamesmanship for sincere civic action in helping the country's poor and dispossessed by all legitimate means at our disposal. We must resist the temptation to court or prolong legal or legislative conflicts over church-state issues so as to raise more money for "us" from supporters who despise "them," or otherwise worship ideological icons or kneel before organizational self-interest. And my hope is that we will all strive to "think Catholic" when it comes to antipoverty efforts and the common good.
For those without ears to hear, chapter 7 repeats this plea, but in relation to three faith-free principles (or as faith-free as I am capable of making them). It conceives urban faith-based organizations as "civic value stocks" that promise to yield significant social returns on multiple small public and private investments. Reaching back to chapter 5, it documents the special civic strengths and resiliency represented by black churches and argues for focusing the next round of federal and state faith-based initiatives on helping young black urban low-income males. The recipe includes everything from targeted mentoring initiatives for preschool children to targeted prisoner reentry programs for adult ex-offenders. The total price tag, only a fraction of which would need to come from Washington, would be about $10 billion a year, or less than a quarter of what we spend annually on state prisons alone.
As a hedge against having totally missed my mark, and because I think it is the best church-state consensus statement yet drafted by present-day religious leaders, the appendix copies the 1988 Williamsburg Charter.
Obviously, this is a book by an academic, but it is not, strictly speaking, an academic treatise. It is also a book by a former White House official; particularly in chapters 3 and 4, I have drawn on my experience there. Yet this is not an insider or tell-all account.
I am aware that I am many things, or many things all at
once, that most citizens are not at all: a working-class character
with a Harvard Ph.D. who got tenure early at Princeton; a Democrat
who is highly conservative on some issues and quite liberal on
others; and a Catholic who, as I noted previously, reclaimed his
faith by hanging out with black Pentecostals. Furthermore, as you
may see most plainly in chapter 6, my respect and admiration for
certain evangelical Christian leaders with whom I have disagreed is
so profound that I wish my secular liberal friends would stop
cringing at the mere mention of their names. I even hold out hope
for mutual civic forbearance so deep that it will permit joint
left-right, secular-sectarian advocacy and action to benefit
America's most truly disadvantaged children, youth, and families.
(I believe in civic miracles.)
Do you know if you are going to heaven?" Shortly after being appointed the first Director of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives--the "faith czar"--John J. DiIulio Jr. was asked this question. Suddenly DiIulio, a Catholic Democrat who pioneered programs for inner-city children, was acutely aware that he was no longer a private citizen who might have humored the television evangelist standing before him. Now he was, as he recalls in his introduction--"responsible for assisting the president in faithfully upholding the Constitution . . . and faithfully acting in the public interest without regard to religious identities." Using his brief tenure in the Bush administration as a springboard, this lively, informative, and entertaining book leaps into the ongoing debate over whether as a nation America is Christian or secular and to what degree church-state separation is compelled by the Constitution. Avoiding political pieties, DiIulio makes an impassioned case for a middle way. Written by a leading political scholar, Godly Republic offers a fast-paced, faith-inspired, and fact-based approach to enhancing America's civic future for one and all."John DiIulio's Godly Republic: A Centrist Blueprint for America's Faith-Based Future is a splendid book. It is a much needed book. It is a book that will raise eyebrows and raise hackles-at both edges of the political spectrum. It will also raise the consciousness of readers who are willing to consider dispassionately the careful, thoughtful, and quite penetrating argument Professor DiIulio makes for a via media on the question of public aid to religiously based providers of social services to our fellow citizens who are in need. I hope and--dare I say it?--pray that there will be many such readers."--Robert P. George, Princeton University
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