God of Liberty by Thomas Kidd





God of Liberty by Thomas Kidd


For a long period, scholars of American religious history have been conscious of the fact that their profession has been challenged with four deep gapsepochs that sought concrete synthetic treatments. These gaps occurred in religion during the Great Depression, during the Revolutionary era, religion and the Civil War and religion during the Great Awakening. The earlier works by Thomas S. Kidd in his book ‘The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America’ successfully managed to fill one of these gaps and his last text, ‘God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution’ filled the second one.


The role that religion played in American independence formed a major theme in the book ‘God of Liberty’. The book was written at a time when discussion into both American history and religion were very controversial. The issue of secularism was evident within religion as more and more Americans sought to understand the place of secularism within their religion. The text discussed the counterfeit dilemmas that existed in the United States that created religious diversity. This diversity represented the greater revolutionary attitude adopted by Americans that made it a superpower in the first place. The professor noted that different parties in religion such as deists, evangelicals and other liberals worked together to achieve religious freedom. On one side, evangelicals wanted the freedom to preach their religion while deists and other rationalists wanted the government to ease off the pressure of religious activity.

Most of the works documented in history acknowledged the roots of American independence in the numerous rebellious denominations that escaped England in search of spiritual autonomy. However, Kidd discovered the source of revolt in the beginning of evangelical Christianity thirty years before the assassinations started. Protestant preachers arose against any worldly powers, and particularly against the spiritually tyrannical English kingdom with its conspiracy of government and church. The hope of revolution as argued by Thomas Kidd presented a chance to stop all forms of religious prejudice and let the gospel be appreciated by everyone in equal measure. The relevance of such deliverance for evangelicals was represented something greater than ordinary civil rights – they were excited by an apocalyptic and beneficial revelation that predicted the approaching of the Rapture in the activities leading up to the Revolution.

Politicians also realized liberty but in a different way. While they all stood for Christianity in one way or another, it was evident that they were not evangelical. A few of the prominent individuals included renowned deists such as the practical Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine and Jefferson who acted on their Protestant beliefs through their writings and who were regularly accused of sacrilege for their iconoclasm. In the book, Thomas Kidd labeled them as the “Enlightenment rationalists” but sufficiently excluded similarly important sources such as Voltaire and Cicero. The spiritual notions of these Enlightenment rationalists were often free and multifaceted, often undecided and enthralling; but significantly, they had no need for definite religious doctrines to discover common grounds with the freedom-seeking evangelists. Basing their argument on the liberal theory, Thomas Kidd argued that James Madison could hypothesize that civil authorities should avoid any form of coercion directed towards making people have a uniform religious standpoint. Instead, Madison should concentrate on controlling religious practices that worked towards the interests of the state’s welfare.

Conversely, Jefferson also appealed to worldwide moral doctrines put in place by God as ‘self-evident’ truths while evading the undergrowth of theological details. The founders’ brilliance lay specifically in the universalizing and non-denominational inclinations that turned out to be an important medium for the development of American religious liberty. Like the originators, the sectarian evangelists had to validate their struggle by appeals to God-given rights of principles; but in a manner dissimilar to them, sectarians failed to foresee an extension of those rights to all of their spiritual counterparts. Kidd readily accepted this point and desisting from venturing far enough to recognize the creatively groundbreaking rebellion of the original philosophers who generalized from the rebellion of specific sects to the religious rights for everybody.

Apart from the major theme of secularism, Thomas Kidd also mentioned four other minor points of common grounds that bound the initial evangelicals and drafters of the fundamental documents on basic rights into a loose-fitting but useful coalition. Most evident was a general conformity with the idea that God was the underwriter of primary human rights. This notion was an underlying one in most of conventional European and created the notion that God chose certain kings to rule their subjects.

For specific paragraphs, Thomas Kidd dwells on the line between heaven and earth. In his discussion, the issue of idealism came up as a valid theme. Angels are presumed to be God’s assistants. Consequently, men cannot be compared to angels and that men could not be given too much power over others. Kidd brought out the link between the apportioning of power and the rebellion that happened against Parliament. This influenced the way in which the constitutional debate went and even the inclusion of separation of powers in the laws.

In his text, Kevin also raised the point of virtuosity. Evangelicals and founders reacted to the widespread fraud of the current parliamentary system and the insatiability of the Crown by agreeing that the society and government all together should endeavor to be righteous. When human beings acted in a selfish manner and wanted more than they were entitled to, disorder would lead inevitably to tyranny. Towards the end of the book, Thomas Kidd reached the extreme when he attempted to conflate the drastic evangelists in the late 17th century and their liberation divinity with the current type of conventional clergymen whose fixation seemed focused on restricting full membership in the society to groups that were considered morally unsuitable. However, the ‘God of Liberty: a Religious History of the American Revolution’ is a narration is worth bearing in mind and highly readable.


America is an advanced society that is characterized by a combination of religion and secularism that makes it quite difficult for Thomas Kidd to come up with a solid argument on the state of religion in the current society. However, in his book, Kidd was able to come up with a strong thesis that compared secularism and religion. By filling up the gaps that existed in theology for several decades, Kidd was able to bridge the gaps that existed in the minds of most Christians. For a long time, secularism has affected the way in which Americans think and handle matters concerning God and Christianity. After the publication of this text, the populations were able to understand the differences between worldly and heavenly elements. However, it may evident that there is still a long way to go in understanding Christianity but the ‘God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution’ greatly assists in this quest.

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