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BOOK NOTES 551

The Lost Soul o f American Politics: Virtue, Self-Interest, and the


Foundations ofLiberalism. By John Patrick Diggins. New York: Basic
Books, 1984. 409 pp. $23.95.

"This book is concerned with the political ideas and assumptions of the
Founders and their immediate heirs," says the author, a professor of history
at the University of California at Irvine. It also might be described as
an extended, sometimes rambling discussŸ of the uses of the term "virtue"
in American political discourse from the writing of the Declaration to 1670.
Indeed, the Fathers frequently used this term and it is seldom heard these

Downloaded from http://jcs.oxfordjournals.org/ at Carleton University on June 29, 2015


days in Washington cloakrooms or in social science classrooms. Sadly,
Diggins does little either to restore or lay the intellectual foundation for
restoring what he defines as the lost soul of American politics.
In matters of religion, the author's construction of the views of the
Founders seems both novel and poorly developed. Benjamin Franklin is
described as a "Protestant hero" and itis claimed that "John Adams' ideas
derived from Calvinism."
This book is written primarily, perhaps exclusively, for professional
historians interested in pre-twentieth-century American intellectual history.
To his credit, the author attempts to show the relationship between the
thought of the Fathers (Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin) and later notables
(Lincoln, Melville, Bancroft, and Emerson). His discussion of Lincoln's
ideology is excellent. Unfortunately, Diggins's writing style lacks both clarity
and force. He prefers long sentences cluttered with clauses. The nonspecialist
in this material would do better to begin by reading Gary Will's Inventing
America.

GAYLE AVANT
Baylor University

The Church in China: How It Survives and Prospers Under Communism.


By Carl Lawrence. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethel House Publications,
1985. 169 pp. n.p.

The foreword to Carl Lawrence's The Church in China refers to it as


an epochal book. Though the story told is truly epochal, the telling of
that story is sadly flawed.
Epochal, indeed, is the story of how a miniscule band of some seven
hundred fifty thousand Protestant believers, nurtured by missionaries and
including numbers of so-called rice Christians, has emerged from deeades
of suppression to reveal a church in China numbering twenty million even
by conservative estimates.
The Lawrence account is flawed in a number of ways: the account is
presented in exaggerated terms of confrontation with the state; inchoate
bodies of house congregations are incorrectly referred to as the only true
church, and by implication four thousand or more officiaUy recognized

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