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Histories of American Christianity
To tell the story of America is, in many ways, to tell the story of religion in America. At every point in its history, America was, and still is, religious—and diversely so. To understand how religion shaped America’s history is to trace the influence of America’s dominant faith tradition, Christianity. But American Christianity, like religion in America, is a wonderfully varied movement. In this comprehensive, eminently readable introduction, Christopher Evans maps the pluralism of American Christianity around its historic center, demonstrating the enduring role of Protestantism despite the wide assortment of distinctly American religious innovation.
In Histories of American Christianity, Evans thus narrates the intellectual history, chronicles the story of sectarian divisions, and explores how Christianity became so intertwined with and pervasive in public life. But Evans also shines fresh light on what has been omitted. Through the use of individual stories focusing on the traditionally marginalized—e.g., women, African Americans, and Latino/a descendants—Evans weaves together a tapestry of American-Christian orthodoxy and tradition over the centuries. What results is a readable and teachable volume, grounded in research and packed with critical reflection that chronicles America’s rich Christian history.
Constructing a Protestant Worldview, 1600–1800
1 American Puritanism Revisited
2 Unintended Diversity: The Growth of Colonial Christianity
3 The Great Awakening
4 The Revolutionary War and Religious Disestablishment
The Evangelical Empire and Its Critics, 1800–1865
5 Methodism and the Rise of Early Nineteenth-Century Popular Evangelicalism
6 Experimental Christianity
7 Conflicts of Twoness: Catholic and African American Christianities
8 The Perfection of Christian America: From Holiness to Civil War
American Christianity in Tumult, 1865–1920
9 Defending the Protestant Empire
10 Social Christianities and Social Gospels
11 Dispensationalism, Pentecostalism, and the Origins of Fundamentalism
American Christianity and Modernity, 1920–1965
12 Christian Realignments between the World Wars
13 Civil Religion, Popular Religion, and the Renewal of Social Christianity
The Restructuring of American Christianity, 1965–2009
14 The Parameters of Pluralism
Epilogue: Seeing the Future through the Past
Index of Names
"... a very highly recommended history for personal, seminary, community, and academic library Christian Studies and American History reference collections and supplemental reading lists."
—The Midwest Book Review (March 2014)
“Evans writes with verve and energy, and his book is likely to turn the heads of those who imagine a history of American Christianity as having to do with stained glass and wooden pews.”
—Ted A. Campbell, Associate Professor of Church History, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
“Histories of American Christianity is bursting with the integrity of historical context and brocaded with fresh insights.”
—Leonard Sweet, E. Stanley Jones Professor at Drew University, Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Fox University
“…a rich and textured history that yields a fresh perspective on religious life in America.”
—Randall Balmer, author of The Making of Evangelicalism
"Evans' distinctive approach to history and historiography pushes professors and students alike to think beyond what actually happened and to contemplate critically and sympathetically the range of choices historians have made in telling their particular tales. Histories of American Christianity helps us listen for and to the stories of America's religious past and helps us better comprehend the perils and possibilities of America's religious future."
—Elizabeth H. Flowers, Assistant Professor, Texas Christian University and author of Into the Pulpit: Southern Baptist Women and Power Since World War II
"…an expert and accessible overview of the historiography of American Christianity."
—David Golding, Anglican and Episcopal History
“…an insightful and enjoyable read.”
—M. A. Granquist, Luther Seminary, Choice (51:7, March 2014)
“Christopher Evans succeeds in presenting a complicated story with clarity and insight.”
—Mark Noll, author of America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln
Christopher H. Evans is Professor of the History of Christianity at Boston University School of Theology and is the author of several books, including Liberalism Without Illusions: Renewing an American Christian Tradition (2010). He lives in the Boston, Massachusetts area.