Below are two clips with distinct views of religion in the American founding. One comes from a decidely Christian perspective, the other from a leading historian of the United States in the era of the Constitution — some might call it secular (I prefer learned).
The issue worth raising here is not whether the U.S. is a Christian country. It is instead what role regeneration plays in the interpretation of history, specifically the history of American independence and nation building. Do Christians, by virtue of regeneration, have more insight into history, can they interpret documents and events better, than non-Christians? Or could it be that faith actually makes one predisposed to overlook contrary evidence?
My own view is that the clip by Gordon Wood is far more accurate in weighing all the evidence about the founders than the views of David Barton. What is particularly interesting is that Wood is very kind to Baptists and Methodists, and acknowledges the importance of revivalism and evangelicalism to the new nation. He is not hostile to religion.
But for many Christian culture warriors, such concessions are not good enough, and supposedly Wood has an axe to grind because he won’t go all the way and recognize the orthodoxy of such founders as George Washington.
Meanwhile, some may want to chalk up Wood’s ability as a historian to common grace. I myself prefer to attribute it to his own vast knowledge of the American founding and the amount of time he has spent reading the sources and subjecting his arguments to peers in the field. In other words, I think Wood is smart.
Did he get those smarts from God? I believe he did. But he also used them well. I am not sure that Christian apologists for a Christian nation use either their smarts or their illumination as well.