A Nation with the Soul of a Church
How Christian Proclamation Has Shaped American History
by O.C. Edwards Jr. with James Dunkly
August 2013, 366pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39385-3
$64, £48, 54€, A92
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39386-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.
From the very beginning, religious leaders have influenced the course of American history—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. This book examines those Christian sermons that set or changed the course of the nation.

What did 18th-century preacher Jonathan Edwards really mean to convey with is “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon? What Southern minister did most to encourage secession of the Southern states from the Union? And why does Martin Luther King Jr. need to be remembered for more than his “I Have a Dream” speech? This book examines the sermons that have shaped American history from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the Obama administration. It provides extended biographical treatments of those who preached them, thereby providing readers with the historical context of the sermon, an explanation of what made these orations so effective, and an understanding of the role of religion in American history.

Author O.C. Edwards Jr. supplies insightful and interesting coverage of Christian preachers and sermons that will engage anyone interested in America’s religious or social history. The book addresses the religious philosophies and speeches of individuals such as William Sloan Coffin Jr., Russell Conwell, Charles Coughlin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Billy Graham, Anne Hutchinson, Martin Luther King Jr., Patricia Merchant, John Winthrop, and Jeremiah Wright.


  • Provides approachable information that helps any reader understand the role of religion in American history
  • Supplies insights from the author of the award-winning A History of Preaching hailed as a definitive work by critics
  • Presents accurate and scholarly yet lively and engaging coverage of important preachers and sermons throughout American history
O.C. Edwards Jr., PhD, is a retired Episcopal priest. He is a former president and professor emeritus of preaching at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary at Evanston, IL, has cochaired the Faith and Order Commission, and served on the executive committee of the National Council of Churches. His books include A History of Preaching and How Holy Writ Was Written. With John Westerhoff he edited A Faithful Church: Issues in the History of Catechesis.

James Dunkly, PhD, is librarian of the School of Theology, associate university librarian, and lecturer in New Testament at the University of the South, Sewanee, TN. He is book review editor of Sewanee Theological Review and is on the board of Anglican Theological Review, for which he also served as editor. Dunkly is past president of the American Theological Library Association and has served as editor of Tuesday Morning and managing editor of New Testament Abstracts.


"Recommended."—Choice, January 21, 2014

"A brief review can hardly do justice to the richness of this volume. . . . There is much here to contemplate and much conventional wisdom to reconsider."—Sewanee Theological Review, January 13, 2017
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