The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond

The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond, by Randall Balmer.  $13.57

Amazon: In one of the best products of the current publishing passion for authoritative briefs on big subjects, religious historian Balmer summarizes American Evangelicalism. There are four great turning points in American Evangelical history, he says: the transition from Calvinist to Arminian soteriology (i.e., from regarding grace to regarding conversion as essential to salvation) during the two Great Awakenings, the nineteenth-century eschatological shift from postmillennialism to premillennialism (i.e., from believing the Second Coming will follow to believing it will precede the realization of a Christian world), the creation of an apolitical subculture in the wake of the 1925 Scopes trial, and the rise of the religious Right; he devotes a chapter to each. Evangelicalism’s arguably greatest distinction is its malleability, as seems certainly attested by the polar nature of the change involved in the first and second developments as well as from the third to the fourth. Trenchantly criticizing the religious Right, Balmer hopes that twenty-first-century Evangelicalism will revive the nineteenth-century postmillenarian concern for justice that animated abolition, temperance, and woman suffrage. –Ray Olson

This is trademark Balmer: he has written in his characteristically elegant prose – not just ‘accessible,’ but lovely – yet he has not sacrificed sophisticated analysis in the name of reaching a broad audience beyond the ivory tower. –Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God andMudhouse Sabbath

[I have read another book by Balmer — Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts Faith and Threatens America — and I WILL read this one.  — rls]

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