Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Woody Holton
Dr. Sydney Watts
This thesis analyzes the presence of political ideology within sermons delivered by chaplains in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. In particular, this thesis studies sixteen sermons delivered by Episcopal, Anglican, Congregationalist and Presbyterian chaplains between the years 1776 and 1802. The analysis of these sermons reveals an influence of the political climate during the Revolution on the ways in which the chaplains taught from the Bible. This essay begins with the formation of the chaplaincy as a response to four main needs of the soldiers: the need for a justifier, encourager, disciplinarian and religious teacher. The chaplains referenced the Bible as a higher authority and sought to reconcile the war with a loving God. A pressing need that existed amongst the soldiers was the assurance that God’s hand was upon their fighting and that God would lead them to victory. By referencing the Bible, chaplains related the soldiers’ condition to Biblical stories of exploits and hardships in order to maintain that God would be faithful to the colonial soldiers in the same way he was faithful to his people in the Bible. Yet, the chaplains expressed political interpretations of these verses within their sermons. Because sermons served as key channels for communicating directly to the soldiers, the presence of political references within these sermons reveals potential political motivations and urgings behind the chaplains’ teachings. Specifically, this thesis examines the different interpretations of Psalm 144:1, the association between the American colonists and the Israelites of the Bible, and the concepts of sin and liberty. From this thesis, one can see the infiltration of political thought within sermon literature during the American Revolution, leading to varied interpretations of the Bible.
Stevens, Andrea, "The politicization of biblical analysis by Protestant army chaplains during the American Revolution" (2013). Honors Theses. 8.