When we think about the American Revolution, we tend to think about the war itself. But as John Adams once wrote, "The American Revolution was a change in the hearts and minds of the people." As Jane Hampton Cook shows in her excellent book Battlefields and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War, the change of hearts and minds took place over a period of 25 years before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. There is also no doubt that the Revolution would not have occurred if people of faith hadn’t been leading the way.
"What I realized was that there really couldn’t have been a revolutionary war without people of faith because part of their Christian duty, their understanding of their Judeo-Christian heritage was that they were to obey their king," Ms. Cook said in a recent interiew. (Click here to listen) "That was part of their responsibility to their faith. But they had to make this change. They ended up realizing and prioritizing Galatians 5:1 which says ‘It’s for freedom that Christ came, therefore, stand firm for that freedom.’ The more they concluded that King George had abdicated his God-given responsibility to protect their God-given rights, the more they realized he had become a tyrant and it was part of their duty by their faith to stand firm for freedom."
Through 365 daily devotions, Ms. Cook provides insight into the hearts and minds of not just our most well know founding fathers but many others who played a vital role in the Revolution. By relying on letters, diaries, and other writings, she is able to provide a window into the minds of these courageous men and women who took up the cause of freedom as part of their Christian duty. We also get a keen insight into their own struggles and find much in their lives that is very similar to our own. The book can easily be read as a novel as Ms. Cook still manages to provide a cohesive overall narrative of the Revolution even though she is working within the devotional structure.
One of the book’s greatest strengths is the incorporation of what Ms. Cook refers to as the pulpit perspective. Each week’s readings conclude with an entry entitled "Sabbath Rest" that features a sermon from the time period. We get to see how pastors were also struggling with their duty to stand firm for freedom and the impact that their teachings had on the Founders.
Battlefields and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War is the most comprehensive history of the Revolution that I have come across. It’s devotional style makes it great daily reading for individuals or family study. I highly recommend this book as you will gian a much greater understanding of what motivated the founders to abandon their dreams of a quiet life in order to live loud for liberty.