The first thing that caught my attention about this book is the publisher's name on the spine: Grady Publications. Yup, self-published, and it shows. Besides the expected typographic errors that would have been caught by any competent proofreader, Grady promotes some ideas that no self-respecting publisher would touch.
This book claims to be "A Biblical Interpretation of American History" but the supposed Biblical basis for much of the text is rather narrow-minded, hypocritical, or just plain wrong. Grady does bring out in the first half of the book some fascinating historical highlights which secular historians refuse to mention. However, beginning with the Civil War, the serious flaws in the second half of the book overwhelm any positive value it may have. The first half might more accurately be characterized as "a Baptist interpretation" (or maybe even an "anti-Catholic" interpretation), but the second half is hostile to a lot of Baptists also. There just isn't much in modern America for Grady to like.
One of the ideas that pervades this book is what Grady calls "soul liberty," the freedom to choose your own religion. This may be good Baptist dogma, but it is very much like "tolerance" in many ways, including the fact that it is not, nor can it be, a moral absolute. If tolerance were the absolute many make it out to be, then they would be obliged to tolerate the intolerant, a self-contradiction. Similarly, true soul liberty gives people the freedom to deny soul liberty, which is essentially Grady's complaint against the Catholics (except he doesn't put it in such self-contradictory terms). Other observations...
First the bad news:
1a. With the notable exception of some his more egregious papal conspiracy theories, most of the historical matter in Grady's book is well-documented with endnotes identifying his sources. In stark contrast to this, he offers no external evidence whatsoever in support of his harangues against the science of textual criticism and the "autographs" of the Bible. On p.329 he calls some of the earliest and best complete Greek manuscripts "corrupt" without any basis for that claim.
1b. Grady seems completely oblivious to the fact that nobody today has access to what he repeatedly calls "AV 1611"; the King James Bible most bookstores sell today derives from a 1769 revision. His fondness for the KJV translation and his opposition to the 1901 American Standard Version does not seem to prevent him from using and quoting from the ASV (p.391) when it suits his purposes.
1c. Grady appears utterly ignorant of the science of textual criticism and the principles of Bible translation. Grady does not even exempt from his hostility the New King James Bible, which was produced from the same Greek text as the original "AV 1611" Grady prefers. Most of his objection to the critical text derives from the unfortunate religious preferences of its original editors,Wescott and Hort, with no respect for the honest orthodox faith and scientific scholarship of their successors and especially of the modern translators. Grady fails consistently to apply the same logic to Thomas Jefferson as he does to Wescott and Hort; he would thereby be forced to discard the Declaration of Independence, for Jefferson's religious opinions were far less Biblical than Wescott's & Hort's. This is symptomatic of the hypocrisy which pervades this book.
2a. In the first few chapters Grady repeatedly makes a big point of "soul liberty" with special reference to the Baptist influences on Jefferson and Madison and how these ideas made it into the Declaration of Independence and the First Amendment. Somehow he cannot bring himself to offer the same courtesy of freedom of conscience to Catholics. It may be -- and Grady does document -- that the Catholic position on government does not allow for freedom of religion, but the fact remains that it is closer to what the Bible teaches on the subject than is the Baptist position. On p.227 he approvingly quotes Samuel Morse identifying "popery" with servitude, completely oblivious to the strong teaching in "AV 1611" on submission.
2b. On p.234 he rails against the (Catholic) immigrants coming to the USA as paupers, again completely neglecting the fact that the original Pilgrims were not much better off economically, and were themselves a burden on the existing population until they got their feet on the ground.
3. Grady's faulty exegesis of the curse of Ham ignores the plain teaching of his own "AV 1611" which places the curse on Ham's son Canaan (whose descendants settled in the region now known as Israel), and not on all Hamitic peoples (specifically African races), with the result that his analysis of the slavery issue comes off as rather bigoted and racist, besides being just plain wrong. This discussion is probably the biggest reason for the necessity of self-publication. On p.285 he quotes some Harvard professor's observation that (unlike Egypt, Carthage, Babylon, and Greece) the African race never developed their own civilization -- but somehow neglects to see that Egypt is in Africa the same way Greece is in Europe, and no other European race developed their own civilization either (the British imported theirs from Rome, just like the Copts imported theirs from Egypt). Commercial publishers have editors and reviewers who catch blunders like this.
4a. Grady correctly argues that fiat currency leads to hyper-inflation, but he fails to understand that no monetary unit is safe; his own "AV 1611" records a period in Israeli history [2Chr.9:27] when a gold-based economy experienced the same kind of inflation. It seems Grady prefers speculation about the figurative dreams in Daniel (p.395) to actual history in the Bible. I discuss monetization at length elsewhere.
4b. Grady loves conspiracy. It's a great way to pin the blame for the consequences of our own shortcomings on some nebulous hidden conspirators. On p.410 Grady claims there are only two ways to understand history: Accidental, and Conspiracy. Grady is not a very careful reader of his own "AV 1611" Bible, which clearly teaches a third and correct way: God is Sovereign. People may attempt -- and even succeed -- at conspiracies, but only when God chooses to allow it, and when it serves God's eternal purposes. I suspect Grady knows that, but continually ranting against "the Creature from Jekyll Island" is much more fun.
4c. Grady lets his love for conspiracy overcome his perception of the economic issues. The Federal Reserve System would be utterly powerless to influence the national economy if people were less willing to borrow money. Borrowing is among the curses, as Grady notes elsewhere, but the Fed only does its work by lending. Yes, that gives them power over the borrowers. The obvious conclusion is, don't borrow. Grady missed that. Perhaps it's because despite all the risk and curse involved in borrowing money, the availability of easy capital has fueled the richest economy in all the world and in all of history. Somehow, Grady missed that too.
5. I suspect Grady never met a living preacher he liked, although he has many good things to say about the dead ones; the longer they have been dead the better he likes them. On p.533 he lets the pagan TV network producers do his legwork in examining Bill Hybels' preaching style. Grady doesn't get it. Hybels is taking his preaching to where the lost people of the world are; he is reaching people for Christ who would never darken the door of Grady's church. The same is true of Billy Graham. I have no doubt who Jesus would support.
Now the good news...
Want to see it again?
Seriously, I found the religious back-story to the American Revolution fascinating, but not compelling enough to overcome all the flaws. I tend to side with Jesus [Mark 9:40] on giving other Christians space to learn their discipleship at their own pace, but the ignorance and the hypocrisy in this book are a show-stopper. I cannot recommend it.
2005 July 6