rian should gloss over past injustices. Yet,rndespite what he regards as the whiternSouth’s “tragic commitment to slaveryrnand racism,” he is willing to praise “Davisrnand Stephens, Calhoun and Thornwell,rnLee and Stonewall Jackson” as “greatrnmen.” He has insisted that the bestrnminds of the Old South in the fields ofrnpolitical economy and political science,rnconstitutional theory, Christian theolog}’,rnand historical studies “deserve to bernranked among America’s ablest thinkers,”rnand he has consistently maintainedrnthat their work, along with that of theirrnsuccessors, forms an intellectually coherentrnand sophisticated cultural traditionrnthat “constitutes America’s most impressivernnahve-born critique of our nationalrndevelopment, and, indeed, of the morerndisquieting features of the modernrnworld.”rnBut while Genovese has been a thornrnin the side of a pedantic and self-assuredrnliberalism for years now, he has not failedrnto trim the sails of Southern nationalistsrnwho want to ignore the place of slavery inrnthe Old South. He writes;rnThe Confederacy may have comerninto being as a bastion of constitutionalism,rnstates’ rights, and traditionalrnvalues, as its originators andrnmany others since have claimedrnwith considerable justification, butrnit also came into being as a slaveholdingrnrepublic.rnWhile pointing to the obvious truth thatrnslavery formed the basis of the Southernrnsocioeconomic order, Genovese hasrngone on to note that Southerners themselvesrnclaimed that their system of organicrnsocial relations was superior to the freernlabor system of the North. n Southernrneyes, the Northern system promoted a sociallyrndestructive radical individualism,rnrewarded materialism and greed, and wasrnhostile to Christian principles, whilernsome form of bound labor resolved thernthreatening “social question,” buttressedrnsocial order, created harmonious class relations,rnpreserved a necessary social hierarchy,rnand created a more favorable environmentrnfor Christian principles and thernspread of the Gospel.rnAConsuming Fire examines two questionsrnthat Southern Christians grappledrnwith as soon as it became apparentrnthat they would lose the war and that continuernto bother the historically knowledgeablernamong them to this day. First,rnwhy did God allow the Northern states,rnfilled as they were with infidelity, heresy,rnand Mammon-worship, to defeat thernlargely orthodox Christian South? AsrnGenovese documents, from the beginningrnof the war. Southern pastors, layrncivilians, and soldiers were confident ofrntwo things: first, that they would defeatrnthe Northern armies and gain their independence;rnsecond, that God Almightyrnwas on their side. Even up until the lastrnyear of the war, most continued to hopernthat God would deliver them victory.rnWhen defeat did come, Southernersrnwere spiritually shaken. Nevertheless,rnfew abandoned their faith in the Lord,rnand many actually emerged with a faithrnstrengthened and deepened by the crushingrnof their earthly hopes. Genoveserncredits the pastors for subtly warning theirrncongregations, after the first serious militaryrnreverses in 1862, that God does notrnalways guarantee victory in war to therncause of right and that He often uses heathen,rnheretics, and pagans to disciplinernHis people.rnThe traditional answer to the questionrnof why God decreed a Northern victory isrnthat He was punishing Southerners forrnowning slaves. But as Genovese demonstrates.rnSouthern Christians had soundrnbiblical reasons for rejecting this explanationrnin the postbellum era, for they knewrnthat the Bible neither explicitly nor implicitlyrndeclares slavery perse to be sinful;rnon the contrary, it sanctions the custom,rnprovided that certain conditions are met.rnCienovese writes:rnThe Southern divines, relying onrnthe Word, forged a strong scripturalrncase. They cited the Old Testamentrnto show that the Israelites,rnincluding Abraham and other favoredrnpatriarchs, held slaves withoutrndrawing Cod’s censure. Theyrncited the New Testament to demonstraternthat neither Jesus nor thernapostles ever preached against slaveryrnand that, while Jesus drove thernmoney changers from the temple.rnHe never drove the slaveholdersrnfrom His church.rnHowever, he does not let the matter restrnthere. He argues that slavery as practicedrnin the South “fell well short of biblicalrnstandards,” that Southern Christiansrnknew this at the time but failed to enactrnthe necessary reforms, and that thereforernGod pimished them by defeating themrnin war and taking away those whom Godrnhad entrusted to their care. Genoveserntakes the title of his book from Deuteronomyrn4:23-24: “Take heed unto yourselves,rnlest ye forget the covenant of thernLord your God, which he made withrnyou, . . . For the Lord thy God is a consumingrnfire, even a jealous God.” He believesrnthat Southerners failed to meetrntheir responsibilities as Christian mastersrnto “follow the example of Abraham andrnto treat their slaves as members of theirrnhousehold and as brothers and sisters inrnthe eyes of the Lord.” They failed to realizernthat slavery was a sacred trust to bernregulated in strict “accordance with thernDecalogue, the standards of the Abrahamicrnhousehold, and the teachings ofrnJesus.” According to Genovese, thernslaveholders and statesmen of the Southrnsimply did not meet this standard of biblicalrnstewardship. Thus, he believes, Godrndeposed them as stewards for their persistentrnfailure to heed God’s word, just asrnChrist warned He would do in Lukern16:1-2.rnThis opinion is neither anachronisticrnnor original. Many of the South’s mostrndistinguished theologians, pastors, andrnbishops came to the same conclusion inrnthe aftermath of the war, and sometimesrnearlier. Long after the war, most of themrnbelieved that, if only they had reformedrnslavery in time, God would have broughtrnthem victory in war and decreed the establishmentrnof their independent Southernrnrepublic.rnGenovese is willing to concede thatrnthe Southern pro-slavery reformers werernintelligent men of conscience who honestlyrnthought a Christianized slave systemrnto be consistent with Scripture. On thernother hand, he has no hesitation in condemningrnthe stand-patters for complacencyrnin ignoring the Christian call forrnreform. He insists that, while Southernrndivines may be criticized “for theologicalrnerror” in upholding slaver)’ in any form,rnthey may not fairly be accused of ignorance,rnbad faith, or hypocrisy. However,rnGenovese never spells out the nature orrnbiblical content of that error. The readerrnis left wondering whether Genovesernthinks the modern condemnation of slaveryrnper se (slavery in the abstract) is theologicallyrnand morally groundless orrnwhether it has simply never been made.rnGenovese ably summarizes the effortsrnof Southern Presbyterian, Episcopalian,rnBaptist, and Catholic church leaders tornurge their congregations to reform slaveryrnalong Christian lines. They imploredrnSouthern planters to provide more reli-rn32/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn