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The Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition Paperback – April 3, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; Second Printing edition (April 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895267187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895267184
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By cl on May 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book challenges the idea that the principles this country was founded on were derived from the Enlightenment philosophers. Evans describes the evolution of concepts like the rule of law, property rights and limits on the power of kings, and traces them back to medieval England even before Magna Carta and demonstrates that these ideas had been very thoroughly discussed, argued and implemented for centuries in England before the first colonies were formed, and written compacts and constitutions of the early colonies reflect this.
Evans convincingly argues that Christianity provided the fertile ground in which these ideas were able to take root and prosper, and provides plenty of quotes and footnotes to back it up. He also makes the point that Christian Europe was the only place in the history of the world where these ideas DID take root, and that even today, freedom is a fairly rare commodity elsewhere in the world.
It is his contention that the idea that all men are created equal was introduced to the world by Christianity, and that it was Christianity that gave feudal nobles the authority to challenge the power of kings.
I'm not a religious person, but am beginning to realize that I had a whole bunch of misguided preconceptions about what the Christian religion is and is not responsible for, and will never swallow the politically correct line again without a healthy dose of skepticism.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the individual liberties our constitution was intended to ensure.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dave Huber on November 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was assigned this book to read for a master's class several years ago, and how glad I was for it. Evans thoroughly backs up his arguments -- and in my view, his most compelling stance is that the American Revolution was actually a *conservative* one, directly challenging modern "conventional wisdom." How so? In a nutshell, he says that by desiring to uphold decades and centuries of established legal foundations, the Founders were at odds with an England (Parliament) that was more and more acting without lawful permission. A must read for those interested in *true* liberalism ("classic" liberalism), not contemporary liberalism.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Setliff on August 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
From the teachings of Jesus Christ and Saint Augustine, to the Magna Carta and Blackstone, and still onward to the Puritans and the American founding fathers, M. Stanton Evans traces the ascendancy of liberty in the West. Evans gives particular attention to the roots of Western liberty, which arose in the fertile soil of Christianity; added focus is given to the Anglo-American common law tradition. This is a prudent piece of scholarship that eschews the Enlightenment conception of history while explaining how religion-specifically the Christian faith-has helped fortify corporate liberty in the West and particularly in Anglo-American civilization. Liberty owes as much to the institutions that progressively developed as it does to political philosophy.

The chapter entitled the Age of Despots explores the collectivist and totalitarian movements whose progenitors Robbspierre and Rousseau helped to inspire countless revolutionaries. Evans makes light of the anti-Christian character of twentieth-century totalitarian ideologies, which are essentially millenarian religions. Hitler stated that Nazis hoped "to eradicate Christianity in Germany root and branch." Mussolini signaled a disdain for objective truth in declaring: "If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an external objective truth, then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity..." For fascists and collectivists, truth was subjective and they were apt to affirm their will to power; they sought to tailor their own collectivist ideology, propel it into the limelight, and espouse it as the Gospel truth. Fascists embraced the sentiments of Thrysamachus in Plato's Republic who defined justice as the will of the strongest. Simply put, might makes right!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Stephen W. Carson on October 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The Kirkus Reviews review is insulting to our intelligence. Our we supposed to be scared away because "women, minorities... liberals" will be insulted? Of course, what they really mean is that Evans has not re-written history for the sake of making everyone feel included... Which is the standard of scholarship these days evidently. But for those who are interested in learning rather than getting a politically correct mind enema, this is an excellent book. Evans builds on the work of some of the most serious thinkers who have grappled with the Western liberal (libertarian) tradition: Burke, Tocqueville, Acton, Hayek & so forth. His thesis builds on all these great minds to present an integrated view of the role of tradition, liberty & religion in limiting state power & producing the regime of individual liberty that we all value so much. His chapter on "The Uses of Tradition" is particularly brilliant on the role of the common law. The excellent biblographical essay at the end is worth the price of the book alone. I'm sure many will disagree with the bold claims that Evans makes. But no intellectually honest reader will be able to lightly dismiss the book. This is serious, courageous scholarship that, yet, takes many perspectives into account, (if only to thoughtfully disagree with them). It deserves more substantive responses than Kirkus' warning to the faithful.
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