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Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199896462
ISBN-10: 0199896461
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  • Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The author of this book has brought a sharp intelligence to the ongoing battle for control of evangelicalism. Her insights are as clear as her prose and her reporting is rigorous. An excellent book that ... tells (evangelical history) with vigor, depth and nuance. An excellent addition to any religion reporter's shelf." -Religion Newswriters' Association


"Particularly impressive is Worthen's ability to weave the story of American evangelicalism back into the narrative of mainstream American history and, perhaps more importantly, to make it appear to matter. Anyone interested in recent American history will profit from reading Apostles of Reason."--Journal of Southern Religion


"Beautifully written and compellingly argued it should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand American evangelicalism or the broader religious tension between head and heart."--American Historical Review


"[A] remarkable and textured study." --Randall Balmer, The Christian Century


"Worthen's a beguiling portraitist." --Slate


"Pathbreaking and gracefully narrated." --The Nation


"Apostles of Reason turns intellectual history into page-turning drama, highlighting the flesh-and-blood personalities behind academic debates... the most exciting history of evangelical intellectual life to appear in decades." --Books & Culture


"Lively and story-filled... In locating Christian world view and biblical inerrancy at the heart of evangelicals' travails, and in bringing to light myriad little-known personalities, organizations, campaigns, and quarrels, Worthen has done scholars of twentieth-century history a great service." --Journal of American History


"This is a book to be reckoned with. In terms of its comprehensive grasp of the evangelical movement, its detailed research, and its serious approach to understanding the evangelical mind, Apostles of Reason stands nearly alone... Any serious-minded evangelical should read it." --R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Gospel Coalition


"Molly Worthen has written a truly important book. Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism is the kind of highly ambitious intellectual history that requires thorough familiarity with the sources, a keen eye for discerning intellectual undercurrents, a gift for telling a complicated, many faceted story, and, perhaps most importantly, an editorial aptitude for weaving it all together." --National Catholic Reporter


"[An] impressively wide-ranging account." --George M. Marsden, Commonweal


"Apostles of Reason brings a new level of sophistication, as well as sparkling prose, to the study of modern American evangelicals. A combination of empathetic understanding and critical acumen makes this an unusually humane, as well as unusually insightful, book." --Mark Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln


"Molly Worthen's account of the evangelical imagination across the past seventy years is both sympathetic and critical. She captures the diversity of American evangelicals, their hopes and anxieties, and the nuances of their strategies for cultural influence." --Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848


"Ambitious in its analytical breadth, at once incisive and playful in presentation, and utterly convincing, Molly Worthen's Apostles of Reason is first-rate in every sense. This is a path-breaking book about a quintessentially modern movement. Readers of all persuasions will welcome it." --Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt


"Molly Worthen's Apostles of Reason is an important contribution to the ongoing debate within evangelicalism about how to get along as a family of churches... Reading Worthen's account of evangelicalism is a breath of fresh air in many ways." --First Things


"This book's virtues are many. The prose alone-consistently clear and vigorous, and sparkling with memorable turns of phrase-is worth the price of admission... It is a singular accomplishment." --Christian Century


"Apostles of Reason represents a synthetic and interpretive triumph... It is difficult to overstate how witty her writing is, which is quite an accomplishment given how potentially dry a study of evangelical intellectualism could be. Moreover, Worthen grounds her sparkling prose in impeccable research." --David R. Swartz, Asbury University, The Mennonite Quarterly Review


"Worthen's telling of this narrative is gripping. It is difficult to overstate how witty her writing is, which is quite an acomplishment given how potentially dry a study of evangelical intellectualism could be. Moreover, Worthen grounds her sparkling prose in impeccable research." --The Mennonite Quarterly Review


"...Worthen's historical account of American evangelicalism over the past seven decades is fair, enlightening, and unsettling... I recommend the book highly especially to evangelicals who desire a cogent explanation of why evangelicalism still holds promise--theologically, socially, politically--even though it remains fractured movement." --Religious Studies Review


"Worthen offers an engaging road map through evangelical thought. Almost encyclopedic in nature, her book ably captures its richness and variety- and polarization as well."-- Justus Doenecke, Anglican and Episcopal History


"Worthen has written a volume that will permanently enrich the academy's understanding of American evangelicalism, offered up in a playful, humorous style that her readers will find approachable, if not entertaining. Any student of American religion will read it with profit."-- Review & Expositor


About the Author


Molly Worthen is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost: The Grand Strategy of Charles Hill and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Slate, Christianity Today, and other publications.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199896461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199896462
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The subject of Apostles of Reason is white, conservative Protestants (Fundamentalists/Evangelicals) in the United States during the 20th century. Worthen's central theme -- Evangelicals' crisis of authority -- is examined in its many permutations, but it is largely a story of Evangelicals' late 19th century descent into a fractious subculture marked by contradictory impulses to reject and react against mainstream theological and political authorities while also trying to engage if not replace them with more acceptable intellectual (and anti-intellectual) alternatives. Worthen covers how this process has played out within Evangelical circles and institutions on the level of national politics, higher education, and the wider cultural scene.

People familiar with Evangelicalism from the inside whose memories reach back at least to the 1970-80s and earlier will recognize Apostles of Reason as an accurate, fair, and familiar if not particularly illuminating history. Worthen is sometimes critical, but not as much as she could and probably should be. That may be partly due to the limits of what can be made to fit into 265 pages of text followed by 50 pages of endnotes. Given the scope of the subject, that is not enough space for more than a fairly superficial treatment.

That said, I am not at all convinced that it was necessary for the scope of Worthen's discussion of Evangelicalism and racial issues like segregation to take up a grand total of just three pages. This sort of omission seems to intensify rather than interrogate a serious historiographical problem. Worthen rightly notes in her introduction that African American Christians who are by nearly every standard "evangelicals" themselves refuse the label and would really need to be treated in a separate book.
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Format: Hardcover
Over the past few months, I have had the honor of interacting with a number of non-Evangelical writers that have dedicated a large portion of their lives to studying and understanding the Evangelical tradition. As I have engaged their works and talked with them personally, I have found that they have an understanding of Evangelicalism that no Evangelical could ever possibly have, and that their criticisms and critiques as well as praises for our movement must be received and heeded with great respect. Dr. Molly Worthen, a professor at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill is one of these insightful non-Evangelical scholars. In her upcoming work Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism, Dr. Worthen highlights some of the biggest challenges that have faced American Evangelicalism throughout the duration of our history and by doing so offers a critique and challenge for the new generation of Evangelicals to come.

This is primarily an academic history text (hence being published by the prestigious Oxford University Press), but it's not at all a dull, dry history book. Dr. Worthens insights and style of writing make this book hard to put down. From delving into the origins of American Evangelical doctrines like Inerrancy to uncovering the foundations of the Religious Right, Dr. Worthen sheds light on the foundations as well as the gaping holes in the Evangelical movement and helps us understanding the truth behind the veil of the image Evangelicals have projected over our short history. The centerpiece of this book is the Dr.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Evangelicalism is my tradition. I great up baptist, often going with a friend to an Evangelical Free Church youth group. I participated occasionally in Young Life. I went to Wheaton College and I now attend a non-denominational mega-church. I am solidly Evangelical.

Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism is a history of modern Evangelicalism. And like hearing about your family as an adult, you hear things you thought you knew about, but from a different perspective than what you thought you understood as a child.

Molly Worthen (professor at University of North Carolina) has written an excellent modern history of how Evangelicalism broke away from Fundamentalism and rose in power in the US.

The strongest feature of this history is that Worthen places the history in context. And in context it is clear that many of the features of and changes in American Evangelicalism were not unique or 'God movements' as much as responses to the broader culture of the United State.

As a small example, I have heard about Evangelicalism's commitment to higher education and how in the 1950s and 1960s as Evangelicalism grew it established new colleges and universities or changed old bible schools into real institutions of higher education with properly trained PhDs as the main staff. But Worthen tempers that story by placing that growth (which did happen) as part of a broader professionalization and expansion of higher eduction that was primarily driven by the GI Bill and requirements that schools that were receiving money from the GI Bill be accredited and professional.
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