Distinguished professor of religion and senior fellow, Ernest L. Boyer Center
Is America a Christian nation? Not likely, according to Richard Hughes, distinguished professor of religion and senior fellow of the Ernest L. Boyer Center at Messiah College. Listen to excerpts of Hughes’ new book, “Christian America and the Kingdom of God,“ to draw your own conclusions.
Early reactions to Richard Hughes’ new book, Christian America and the Kingdom of God (University of Illinois Press, summer 2009) may well ignite a blaze of scrutiny from scholars, fundamentalists, and even some more liberal-thinking Christians, which is exactly what Hughes expects, and why he teaches at Messiah College—a place where discourse and constructive debate reflect the College’s commitment to the unrestrained exploration of ideas.
“Christian colleges and universities are a richly diverse group, yet there is no college anywhere in America like Messiah College,” shares Hughes, whose welcome of dissenting voices seem to symbolize his—and the College’s—passion for intellectual conversation.
“I expect that there will be people upset by my conclusions, maybe even some on campus,” he says. “But the beauty of Messiah is that we recognize and embrace how fractured we are-we have so many different perspectives, yet we are all rooted in a common commitment to the Christian faith on the one hand, and a common commitment to the life of the mind, on the other.”
In the book, Hughes, a distinguished professor of religion and senior fellow at the Ernest L. Boyer Center who has written 16 other books, asserts that the notion of a “Christian America” by Biblical standards undermines both the integrity of Christian faith and of our nation. Hughes presented his work at this year’s Spring Humanities Symposium, “Faith in the Public Square,” and drew heightened if not highly charged responses from audience members during the public, yet productive, discourse that followed.
Christian American and the Kingdom of God, has been applauded nationally by authors, scholars, and columnists who find the work courageous, persuasive, and vigorously penetrating. Endorsements include “meticulously researched, brilliantly reasoned, and carefully written,” to “may well be the best book ever written about American civil religion and our peculiar penchant for fashioning a god in Uncle Sam’s image.”
Hughes, who holds a doctorate in the history of Christianity from the University of Iowa, teaches Created and Called for Community, and Religion in the United States at Messiah. In addition, he and his wife Jan team-teach a first-year seminar on Learning to Tell our Stories. Hughes also serves as a senior fellow at the Boyer Center—which seeks to enrich American education and society by modeling the work of Ernest L. Boyer.
Posted on April 3rd, 2009