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G.I. MessiahsSoldiering, War, and American Civil Religion$
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Jonathan H Ebel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300176704

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300176704.001.0001

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The Vietnam War as a Christological Crisis

The Vietnam War as a Christological Crisis

(p.134) Chapter 5 The Vietnam War as a Christological Crisis
G.I. Messiahs

Jonathan H. Ebel

Yale University Press

The American soldier figured prominently in the civil religious crisis of the Vietnam War, both as an interpreter of war and as a symbol of the nation’s moral standing and ethical capacities. This chapter examines governmental and popular presentations of the Vietnam-era soldier and argues that these presentations often featured divergent interpretations of the relationship between the soldier and the government, whose will he embodied. In civil religious terms this was a Christological controversy, paralleling disagreements in the early Church over the precise nature of the incarnation and the saving work of the Christ figure. In the end, the purity of soldierly service and sacrifice was maintained through removal of the stain of compulsion from soldiering for America.

Keywords:   Vietnam War, Dwight Johnson, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, John Kerry, Christology, all-volunteer military

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