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Evangelicalism in America
Evangelicalism has left its indelible mark on American history, politics, and culture. It is also true that currents of American populism and politics have shaped the nature and character of evangelicalism.
This story of evangelicalism in America is thus riddled with paradox. Despite the fact that evangelicals, perhaps more than any other religious group, have benefited from the First Amendment and the separation of church and state, several prominent evangelical leaders over the past half century have tried to abrogate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. And despite evangelicalism’s legacy of concern for the poor, for women, and for minorities, some contemporary evangelicals have repudiated their own heritage of compassion and sacrifice stemming from Jesus’ command to love the least of these.
In Evangelicalism in America Randall Balmer chronicles the history of evangelicalism—its origins and development as well as its diversity and contradictions. Within this lineage Balmer explores the social varieties and political implications of evangelicalism’s inception as well as its present and paradoxical relationship with American culture and politics. Balmer debunks some of the cherished myths surrounding this distinctly American movement while also prophetically speaking about its future contributions to American life.
Preface: Defining American Evangelicalism
Chapter 1. An Altogether Conservative Spirit: The First Amendment, Political Stability, and Evangelical Vitality
Chapter 2. Turning West: American Evangelicalism and the Restorationist Tradition
Chapter 3. Casting Aside the Ballast of History and Tradition: Protestants and the Bible in the Nineteenth Century
Chapter 4. An End to Unjust Inequality in the World: The Radical Tradition of Progressive Evangelicalism
Chapter 5. Thy Kingdom Come: The Argot of Apocalypticism in American Culture
Chapter 6. A Pentecost of Politics: Evangelicals and Public Discourse
Chapter 7. A Loftier Position: American Evangelicalism and the Ideal of Femininity
Chapter 8. Re-create the Nation: The Religious Right and the Abortion Myth
Chapter 9. His Own Received Him Not: Jimmy Carter, the Religious Right, and the 1980 Presidential Election
Chapter 10. Keep the Faith and Go the Distance: Promise Keepers, Feminism, and the World of Sports
Chapter 11. Dead Stones: The Future of American Protestantism
About the Author
"Eminently readable, Randall Balmer’s Evangelicalism in America offers a concise historical capsule of axial episodes in the nation’s religious and political history from the founding onward. Deeply drawn to the evangelical tradition in which he was raised, Balmer is also among its most discerning critics—a prophet who draws his direst warnings against today’s Religious Right from his learned familiarity with the country’s Protestant past. Seen from that long historical view—from Roger Williams to Martin Luther King Jr.—the rightwing mobilization of evangelicalism over the last forty-plus years is laden with ironies and paradoxes that Balmer fearlessly unpacks."
—Leigh Eric Schmidt, Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor, Washington University in St. Louis
"Randall Balmer is both one of our nation's best historians of American evangelicalism and an important advocate for the recovery of a long and profound tradition of progressive, even radical, social-justice and human-dignity evangelicalism. This book offers vintage Balmer on both fronts."
—David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University
"In this book Randall Balmer takes us on a lively journey through the past three centuries of American evangelicalism. In the process, and as he has been doing for decades, Balmer winsomely and compellingly calls on evangelicals to remember their storied history as ‘agents for change’ in behalf of ‘those on the margins.’"
—William Vance Trollinger, Jr., co-author of Righting America at the Creation Museum
Randall Balmer is John Phillips Professor in Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College.