Skip to main content

Forum on Antebellum American Protestantism


At the 2015 Winter Meeting of the American Society of Church History, the panel “Futures of the American Religious Past” examined two of the most provocative and influential recent analyses of antebellum American protestantism—Mark A. Noll's America's God and John Lardas Modern's Secularism in Antebellum America. In one sense, the pairing is odd. The two books appear drastically different, stylistically and methodologically. Modern's highly original monograph constructs a genealogy of antebellum American secularism, illuminating ways in which this cultural force haunted the historicity of American protestantism. His analysis interweaves the theoretical and discursive approaches of cultural studies and religious studies. Noll's book, on the other hand, constructs a more traditional, though deeply creative, history of protestant religious ideas, attentive to the agency of individual thinkers and institutions. Both books are brilliant, yet they exist at two opposite disciplinary poles in the study of American religions. Their juxtaposition embodies what Laurie Maffly-Kipp in her 2013 American Society of Church History Presidential Address called our “transitional moment” in American religious history, as theoretical developments of religious studies confront traditional church history paradigms.

Hide All

1 This discussion began in an informal seminar in New York City in 2013 that brought together young scholars of American religions. The forum authors want to recognize the intellectual labor of Elizabeth Dolfi, M. Cooper Harriss, Andrew Jungclaus, and Tyler Zoanni in this conversation.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 13 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 88 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.