Religion & Republic

Christian America from the Founding to the Civil War

By Miles Smith

$32.25 42.95 (Pre-order discount)

Publication Date: May 23rd, 2024.

About this book

A Protestant Republic

In recent years, America’s status as a “Christian nation” has become an incredibly vexed question. This is not simply a debate about America’s present, or even its future–it has become a debate about its past. Some want to rewrite America’s history as having always been highly secular in order to ensure a similar future; others seek to reframe the American founding as a continuation of medieval Christendom in the hopes of reviving America’s religious identity today.

In this book, Miles Smith offers a fresh historical reading of America’s status as a Christian nation in the Early Republic era. Defined neither by secularism nor Christendom, America was instead marked by “Christian institutionalism.” Christianity–and Protestantism specifically–was always baked into the American republic’s diplomatic, educational, judicial, and legislative regimes and institutional Christianity in state apparatuses coexisted comfortably with disestablishment from the American Revolution until the beginning of the twenty-first century. 

Any productive discussion about America’s religious present or future must first reckon accurately with its past. With close attention to a wide range of sermons, letters, laws, court cases and more, Religion & Republic offers just such a reckoning.

Paperback | 350 pages | 6×9 | Published May 23, 2024 | ISBN 978-1949716313

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From The Book

“This book does not purport to posit that the United States was a Christian nation in the early nineteenth century, despite it being described that way perhaps with good purpose. My own belief is that the United States was a republic of Christians that were committed to what I have chosen to call “Christian institutionalism.” Early Republic Protestants wanted to maintain Christian principles in their nation’s various social and political institutions without sacralizing those principles or subordinating the American republic to a church.”

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Foreword – Kevin DeYoung





















Works Cited


About the Author

Dr. Miles Smith (Ph.D. Texas Christian University) is a trained historian. He attended university at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, and received his Ph.D. from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Smith’s research is on the U.S. South and the Atlantic world. He generally writes on intellectual history—ideas, religion, slavery and freedom, etc.—but occasionally dabbles in political history, too. Dr. Smith is also interested in Europe and in Latin America. He edits nineteenth century works of historical theology and is revising a religious biography of Andrew Jackson. Smith has written for popular outlets like Ad Fontes, Mere OrthodoxyThe Gospel CoalitionPublic DiscourseThe Federalist, and The University Bookman.

Religion & Republic is a history book first and foremost. Unlike some contemporary historians, Miles refrains from using history as a (rather obvious) Trojan horse for political and theological agendas. Miles wants to show us what was, not lay out a plan for what ought to be. And yet, if there is an implicit exhortation in the book, it is to consider again the wisdom of “Christian institutionalism.” In good conservative fashion, Miles reminds us that too often evangelicals have prioritized the individual or the nation-state, without giving much thought to the intermediate institutions that sustain human civilization. Christians can start by taking civil and social institutions seriously, not confusing them with the church or confusing the church’s mission with their mission, but taking them seriously nonetheless.”


From the Foreword


The Davenant Institute endeavors to restore wisdom for the contemporary church. We seek to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build friendships and facilitate collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. Below are some of the works we’ve published towards that end.

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