Archives For Evangelicalism

 

A Truly Evangelical Perception of Justice

A Feature Review of

Return to Justice:
Six Movements that Reignited Our Contemporary Evangelical Conscience
Soong-Chan Rah / Gary VanderPol

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2016.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Kevin Book-Satterlee

 

Rah and VanderPol’s book is an important brief history of an undercurrent of biblical justice found in American evangelicalism. It is a history of struggle for recognition, and provides key snapshots in an album of this continued Return to Justice. The book is born from the authors’ obvious experience and study, and seeks to reintegrate the bifurcation of evangelism and justice. The authors highlight and esteem known figures and institutions such as John Perkins, World Vision, Sojourners, and Samuel Escobar, among others. These key figures and their stories formed the historical backdrop and narrative for reinvigorating biblical justice as a key tenet of evangelicalism, challenging a dominant American, white male, middle-class status quo that has historically recoiled from social gospel “tendencies” and issues of biblical justice in preference and focus towards an individualistic approach of evangelism-by-proclamation and personalized salvation experience.

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Reconciliation Without History?

A Feature Review of 

Us Versus Us:
The Untold Story of Religion and the LGBT Community

Andrew Marin

Paperback: NavPress, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Caris Adel

 

There is a picture on the cover of the Moral Majority newsletter from July 1983 that prominently features a white heterosexual family with hospital masks over their faces. Above their heads is the word AIDS and below, the statement “Homosexual Diseases Threaten American Families.”

For over 4 decades, the conservative and evangelical church has been telling us that LGBT people pose a threat to the American family. This long history of Christian opposition to and the demonization of LGBT people hung over my head as I began to read Andrew Marin’s new book Us Versus Us.

This book is essentially the results of a survey of over 1700 people taken over 6 years which featured open-ended questions. Not only are we getting fresh statistics on the LGBT community and the church, we are also hearing plenty of stories and opinions from them and how their faith communities affected them. Marin says this book is written for both sides – the LGBT community and the church, and therein lies my main complaint with the book. He puts them on equal ground in the religious culture war.

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Can Evangelicalism be Born Again?

A Review of

The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born Again Years

Steven P. Miller

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2014
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Kindle ]

Reviewed by Betsy Shirley

 

I nearly choked on my sandwich. A remake of the movie Left Behind? In 2014? I was sure my friend had misread something.

 

But a quick Google search and there it was, incontrovertible IMBd.com evidence: due in theaters October 3, starring Nicholas Cage, with a budget that one Wall Street Journal blogger simply described as “expensive.”

 

What does it mean, when Hollywood produces a 2014 remake of a 2000 movie based on a bestselling 1990’s book series? Is Left Behind is simply the newest offspring of Hollywood’s desperation for profit coupled with our infatuation for remakes and sequels, like so many installments of Transformers and X-Men before it?

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This is an important book about Evangelical culture, that I’m just starting to dig into…

Apostles of Reason:
The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism

Molly Worthen

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2013
Buy now:   [ Amazon  ]   [ Kindle ]
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A Fresh Look at Early American Evangelicalism

A Brief Review of

Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America

Catherine Brekus

Hardback: Yale UP, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Douglas Connelly

 

I have read a lot of early American church history since my days in seminary and some of my most-revered mentors come from the era of the Great Awakening – George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and Francis Asbury.  But I can’t ever remember reading a word about Sarah Osborn until I picked up this excellent book.  The author, Catherine Brekus, is an academic (who teaches American religious history at the University of Chicago), but she tells Sarah Osborn’s story in a compelling, embracing style that draws the reader along and into every detail she explores.  The book is more than just the biography of a remarkable woman; it is the story of the broader evangelical movement in early America told through the experience of a remarkable Christian.
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The Activist ImpulseAdjusting to Changing Times.

A Review of :

The Activist Impulse:  Essays on the Intersection of Evangelicalism and Anabaptism

David Cramer and Jared Burkholder.

Paperback: Pickwick, 2012.
By now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Alex Dye

Evangelicalism and Anabaptism seem to live as brothers at odds, though each has seen a rise in popularity in recent years.  Evangelicalism, as popularized by Billy Graham and embodied today through the churches like Willow Creek and Saddleback, has seeped into most denominations in some form or fashion, though many would struggle to define exactly it.  And Anabaptism and Anabaptist thoughts are evidenced through the writings and work of Shane Claiborne, the Reba Place community, and the current church buzzword “social justice.”  Though adherents to each may find themselves at different ends of the theological and political spectrum, the two movements have been influencing one another in significant ways.  “The last thirty years have shown that both evangelicals and Anabaptists, while sharing space on the margins of American society, have manifested a shared commitment-an ‘impulse’-to engage American society through religiously motivated activism.”  (2)

In their collection of essays, The Activist Impulse, Jared S. Burkholder and David C. Cramer attempt to chronicle some of the many and varied interactions between Anabaptism and Evangelicalism, especially related to how they relate to culture, society, and the world.

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“In Search of a Third Way

A review of
An Evangelical Social Gospel?:
Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes
.
by Tim Suttle.

Review by Tim Høiland.

An Evangelical Social Gospel?:
Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes
.
Tim Suttle.
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon – Papaerback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Over the course of the past decade, as a member of a fairly large, conservative evangelical church in a part of the country fairly saturated with other conservative evangelical churches, I have become increasingly interested in and committed to the sort of faith the prophet Micah describes: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

If we’re honest, though, that’s not what evangelicals have been particularly known for. Rather, we have often been caricatured — with varying degrees of accuracy, to be sure — as just the opposite: unkind, unconcerned, and yes, just a wee bit holier-than-thou. Why is this the case?

One way to answer the question would be to say that we are sinners, just like everybody else, and God knows that justice, kindness and humility don’t come easily for any of us. Another approach would require looking back at the past hundred years, back to a seismic split in North American Christianity, between theological conservatism on the one hand and theological liberalism on the other. Broadly speaking, the conservatives emphasized the need for personal faith in Jesus Christ, to the exclusion of what were considered “worldly” concerns. The liberals, meanwhile, guided by the so-called “Social Gospel” movement, taught that Christ’s mission and ours was to transform society, not individuals.

Like many people my age in recent years, I’ve been grappling with this split, in search of a better way, one that embraces the best of both without falling prey to the traps of either. For these reasons I was fascinated when I heard about Tim Suttle’s new book, An Evangelical Social Gospel?: Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes (Cascade, 2011).

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A Review of

No Sympathy For The Devil:
Christian Pop Music and the
Transformation of American Evangelicalism
.
David W. Stowe
Hardback: U of North Carolina Press, 2011.
Buy now:
[ Amazon – Hardback ] [ Amazon -Kindle ]

Reviewed by Adam P. Newton.

Being both a science-fiction geek and political science nerd, I’m a proponent of any thinker or scholar who proposes any sort of unified field theory. It’s not because I think that there will ever be one set idea or school of thought that will be able to provide a baseline explanation of the world. Instead, I like such theorizing simply because I’m a systems thinker who does long to make sense of the world around me (as unending and unsatisfactory as such searching can be at times). Couple this tendency of mine with my long personal history of working in and writing about the Christian music world, and I found myself quite enamored with foundational tenets driving the new book written by David Stowe.

At its root, No Sympathy For The Devil serves as a both history text and a sociological investigation into the early world of how the Baby Boomer generation created the industry that became Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and introduced the burgeoning culture of modern evangelicalism to America. It is a copiously researched study that focuses heavily upon interviews with key players both lauded and forgotten, along with parsing the finer details and perspectives presented in the biographies and autobiographies of genre-crossing artists like Keith Green, Al Green, Johnny Cash, and Marvin Gaye. More than that, it is a long-overdue exploration in how the Western/American low Protestant church progressed from the hippie Jesus People of Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, and JPUSA to the overtly political Moral Majority in under fifteen years’ time.

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The Book that Evangelicals Need
To Be Reading Today
(Besides the Bible, of course)”

A review of
Radical Together:
Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God

by David Platt
.

Review by Chris Smith.


Radical Together - David PlattRadical Together:
Unleashing the People of God
for the Purpose of God

David Platt
.
Paperback: Multnomah, 2011.
Buy Now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

David Platt is an evangelical; he is the pastor of the Church at Brook Hills, a mega-church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he speaks and thinks in evangelical language.  He is also the author of the recent New York Times bestseller Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.  Even in the title of this work, we start to get a sense that there’s something about Platt that does not quite fit the stereotypical mold of evangelicalism.  When I reviewed Radical about a year ago, I found that Platt had a keen sense of some of major cultural pitfalls – particularly wealth and power – that await evangelical Christians.  Although he did a superb job of exposing these temptations, I felt like the solutions he proposed left a great deal to be desired.  Specifically, he seemed to minimize the role of the church, and to rely instead on a sort of heroic individualism.

Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I heard the news that he would be releasing a follow-up book that specifically emphasized the place of the church.  This new book, Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God, does a superb job at addressing the concerns that I expressed about Platt’s ecclesiology in my review of Radical.  In the book’s introduction, for instance, he sets the pace for the book by emphasizing the role of the church in God’s work in the world:

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Reviving Evangelicalism?

A review of

The End of Evangelicalism?:
Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission
.
By David Fitch

Review by Chris Smith.


The End of Evangelicalism? - David FitchThe End of Evangelicalism?:
Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission
.
David Fitch.
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

David Fitch’s first book, The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from… cemented his role as a prominent critic of contemporary evangelicalism.  Although he laid out some pointed critiques in that book, he also demonstrated a deep love for the evangelical tradition, out of which he sought to reform rather than abolish evangelicalism.  In his newest book, The End of Evangelicalism?: Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission, Fitch continues on the same trajectory, hammering home a multi-faceted critique of evangelicalism and yet arguing just as vehemently that the heart of evangelicalism should be retained.

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