Evangelical Disenchantment: Nine Portraits of Faith and Doubt

disenchantmentEvangelical Disenchantment: Nine Portraits of Faith and Doubt, by David Hempton ($19.80)

From Publishers Weekly
Nine erstwhile evangelicals who recanted their beliefs—historical figures including George Eliot, Vincent van Gogh and James Baldwin—stand at the center of this new volume by Hempton (Methodism: Empire of the Spirit), a social historian at Harvard. Relying on letters, speeches, novels and other writings, Hempton creates minibiographies tracing the faith journeys of these disenchanted evangelicals and what such journeys reveal about the movement itself. Hempton is careful not to paint his subjects’ movement away from evangelicalism as the inevitable secularization of thoughtful people; he does, however, examine his subjects’ common reasons for leave-taking, including frustration with rigid doctrine and disillusionment with the church’s reluctance to speak out on such issues as racism and gender inequality. Hempton also points to the vestiges of evangelicalism that often remained even after his subjects had formally quit the movement, characteristics such as moral earnestness, a desire to witness and preach, a commitment to social activism on behalf of disadvantaged people, and a concern for the truth. Readers along the entire spectrum of religious faith and disenchantment will find this book a worthwhile read. (Dec.)
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Review
“A beautifully written and artfully constructed book that draws intriguing conclusions about the nature of evangelical Protestantism.”-Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame (Mark Noll )

“This book charts new territory by close examination of a series of case studies of people previously well-known but not previously compared. Hempton succeeds wonderfully well in producing compelling mini-biographies.”-Thomas Kidd, author of The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Thomas Kidd )

“Hempton tells these stories with excellent skill, insight, and fair-mindedness. These accounts of loss of faith of prominent figures illuminate not only their personal struggles but also some fascinating relationships between evangelicalism and mainstream public culture, especially in Great Britain and the United States.”-George Marsden, author of Fundamentalism and American Culture (George Marsden )

“Evangelicalism has no more loving critic and no better historian than David Hempton. He brings compassion, judgement and searing insight to tales of faith and to tales of disenchantment alike.”-Ann Braude, author of Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women”s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (Ann Braude )

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