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Evangelicalism in America

By Randall Balmer

Evangelicalism in America
Hardback, 211 pages $24.95
Published: 1st October 2016
ISBN: 9781481305976
Format: 8.5in x 5.5in

Subjects: All History, All Theology, Church History, Historical Theology

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

"For directors of parish discussion groups, professors teaching undergraduates about American religion looking for an accessible text, or pastors appointed to an ecumenical commission, I’d run out and buy this book"

Mark Massa, SJ, Theological Studies

"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

"A vital contribution to the study of a movement which itself has made such a vital contribution to the very soul of the United States.’"

—Joe Super, Fides et Historia

"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

“Balmer writes in clear, engaging prose, providing lively and concise portraits of movements and individuals from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries.”

—Bradley J. Longfield, Interpretation

"As a self-acknowledged sympathizer with classical Evangelicalism, Balmer laments its fading into a mere shadow of its founding idealism. His choice of final essay indicates that he holds little hope for the future of a religion that uses political power as its main form of self-identity in a land founded on religious freedom. A quick primer for how Evangelicalism became what it is today."

—Steve A. Wiggins, Reading Religion

Randall Balmer is John Phillips Professor in Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 211 pages
 8.5in x 5.5in

  REL015000, REL067080, REL108020
 Baylor University Press

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