Tracy McKenzie makes sense in his build up to criticism of David Barton:
. . . when the debate that we’re drawn into concerns the nature of the religious beliefs of the nation’s founders, there is something more important at stake than historical accuracy or our personal character. In assessing whether our nation’s founders were Christian, we’re inevitably saying something as well about the Christian faith and Christ himself. Stephen Nichols makes this point marvelously in his book Jesus: Made in America. As Nichols puts it, when we exaggerate the degree to which the founders were Christian, we not only “do injustice to the past and to the true thought of the founders,” but we also do “injustice to Christianity and the true picture of Jesus.”
I have long thought that the same point applies to those who promote Christian scholarship (and this has cost me in certain Christian scholarly circles where neo-Calvinists were once legion). Rightly construed, you can plausibly argue that scholars who study Scripture or dogma are doing something Christian because their very subject is Christ and because to understand the claims of their subjects properly they need the illumination of the Holy Spirit. But why is the study of U.S. history Christian? Because the scholar is Christian? Because the institution that employs her is Christian? Because the U.S. is Christian?
The U.S. and the scholars who study the nation are part of general revelation. They don’t rely upon the Bible, Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit (in a gracious way) or the church to do their work.
So, when scholars who study general revelation try to call their scholarship Christian, are they not guilty of doing precisely what McKenzie sees in David Barton?