Conversations, Reading Guides, VOLUME 12

Evangelicalism – Ten Books for Assessing its Present and Future

Evangelicalism Future Books

This week, Alan Jacobs published a provocative piece in The Atlantic, suggesting that perhaps we have reached the end of evangelicalism …

He concludes the piece:

Just before the past presidential election, I argued that the proper response to those who have stolen our religious identity is to “steal it back.” But since then, I have come to doubt whether that’s possible. This strange and inadvertent conspiracy of Trump supporters and journalists may have put an end to a useful term that once described a vital tradition in the Christian faith. The question of who is and who is not an evangelical should matter to everyone concerned with American politics and the American social order; it matters especially to those who wonder how we got here. But it might not matter much longer. (emphasis added).

In order to evaluate Jacobs’s proposal, we need to have a rich understanding of evangelicalism that draws upon history, theology, and sociology.  Here are ten recent (or soon-to-be-released) books that can help us to cultivate this broad sort of understanding, and to discern the future of evangelicalism (or the movement-formerly-known-as-evangelicalism).

Evangelicalism Future BooksWho Is an Evangelical?:
The History of a Movement in Crisis

Thomas Kidd

*** Featured in Alan Jacobs’s article…

A leading historian of evangelicalism offers a concise history of evangelicals and how they became who they are today

Evangelicalism is arguably America’s most controversial religious movement. Nonevangelical people who follow the news may have a variety of impressions about what “evangelical” means. But one certain association they make with evangelicals is white Republicans. Many may recall that 81 percent of self‑described white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, and they may well wonder at the seeming hypocrisy of doing so.

In this illuminating book, Thomas Kidd draws on his expertise in American religious history to retrace the arc of this spiritual movement, illustrating just how historically peculiar that political and ethnic definition (white Republican) of evangelicals is. He examines distortions in the public understanding of evangelicals, and shows how a group of “Republican insider evangelicals” aided the politicization of the movement. This book will be a must‑read for those trying to better understand the shifting religious and political landscape of America today.

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