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From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism Hardcover – July 7, 2011

2.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Modern evangelicalism, because of its many parts and persuasions, has been said to resemble a mosaic or even a kaleidoscope. In this timely book D. G. Hart gives a thorough overview of this mosaic, looking closely at contemporary evangelicals' political engagement in recent history. While much of evangelicalism has been seen as politically conservative, Hart makes an intriguing case that it has been so in an insufficient fashion. Evangelicals need to become more Augustinian in their theology, he argues, and begin attending as much to the Federalist Papers as they do to the Scriptures. "This book offers an important challenge to evangelical leaders, pastors, and activists alike: focus on the 'permanent things,' remember your pilgrim citizenship, and never forget that the ultimate purposes of history are not determined by politics. This is not to diminish appropriate political concerns but to only put them in proper perspective. Buy a copy of this book for your pastor and also give one to your favorite Christian political activist. By doing so you will raise the level of theological, and political, conversation in the church."
—Michael Cromartie
Vice President, Ethics and Public Policy Center

"Maximally enlightening political-religious argumentation."
—Booklist

About the Author

D. G. Hart is the author or editor of more than twenty books on American religion, including A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State and Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham. A former director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicalism at Wheaton College, he is currently visiting professor of history at Hillsdale College.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (July 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080286628X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802866288
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,315,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

D. G. Hart lives in Michigan with his wife, Ann, and their two cats, Isabelle and Cordelia, where he teaches history at Hillsdale College. Hart used to be an East-Coast snob (though he still roots for the Phillies) but while living in a small mid-western town he has learned that life exists outside the Northeast Corridor. He is currently completing a global history of Calvinism and plans to write books on H. L. Mencken and American religion, and on Roman Catholicism and American conservatism.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For over the last twenty five years evangelicals (a form of Protestantism distinct from mainline or liberal denominations) were known to be politically conservative and politically passive.
The rallying voices of the last twenty five years (Robertson, Dobson, Falwell, etc.) are aging and dying. A transition is underway. Tensions are surfacing between evangelicals and the Right. Evangelical baby boomers are drifting to the left. Rick Warren is given as an example. There is an evangelicalism discomfort with conservatism. 9)
With this introduction, Hart gives a historical account of evangelical politics since WW II. Evangelicals saw the Bible as a better guide to the affairs of the U. S. than the constitution or the tenets of federalism. The evangelical intelligentsia is moving to the political left and they are the ones teaching in Christian colleges, writing books, and training future pastors.
Born again Protestants claim to be conservative but their assumptions and aims are at odds with conservatism. If evangelicals want to be classically conservative, they need to reconsider the way faith relates to politics. "This reconsideration will involve the recovery of an older Augustinian view of the relationship between the City of God and the City of Man, in which the ultimate purposes of history are not located in the rise and fall of empires or republics but in the church of Jesus Christ." 17-18 "Rather than looking at the American nation as the divinely instituted polity to make straight the way of the Lord," they must see the relatively unimportance of the nation-state for such ends.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There really isn't anything wrong with this book. Those who've given it bad rating probably have never developed an understanding of Evangelical Theology and the history thereof. Hart knows what he's talking about and there's no doubt in my mind that Machen would have given this book 5 stars.
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Format: Hardcover
I doubt that Mr Hart will be flattered by the comparison, but this book reminds me of Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas?" In each case, the underlying (and arrogant) assumption is that social conservatives are too ignorant to act in their own self-interest, either by failing to embrace economic populism (Frank) or classical Burkean conservatism (Hart). Of course, it is possible that evangelicals are politically at sea, and even (in the misleadingly provocative title of this book) "betraying American Conservatism", but Hart doesn't deliver much in the way of evidence to make his case.

Perhaps the most glaring weakness of this book is its anachronistic characterization of the evangelical community. Despite the availability of numerous studies and polls which have assayed the political priorities of evangelical voters in the past half-dozen election cycles, Hart does not even attempt to use this data to support his thesis. Rather, he invokes a handful of quotes from 1970's-era political personalities (Senator Mark Hatfield, Jerry Falwell) and modern day left-wing progressives (Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo) as the benchmarks of evangelical political thought, while ignoring the fact that the contemporary evangelical community is overwhelmingly suburban, well-educated, civically engaged, and politically and theologically sophisticated. As a result, the purported conflict between evangelicals and conservatives is reduced to a handful of peripheral issues (school prayer, teaching creationism), while glossing over the overwhelmingly broad consensus they share on the important ones - strong national defense, limited government, and the inherent dignity of human life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It assumes that the be-all-to-end-all is "Conservatism" (as the author defines it). If your evangelical (Biblical) belief system parts company with the author's view of conservative orthodoxy (e.g., on immigration) then you are a betrayer.
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Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: Haven't read the book. Honest admission: Don't need to.

I "Looked Inside" per Amazon's great feature, and saw from the index that the Billy Graham of the title is mentioned on eight pages. And the Sarah Palin of the title? Four pages.

And I read the two pages in the front of the book on Palin, which consist of a stringing together of misinformation from the media of 2008, which more than 70% of U.S. voters acknowledge were grossly biased and partisan.

If Mr. Hart did any in-depth research about Governor Palin, he would see that she was a strict Constitutionalist as Governor - and actually fits his desired mold for a Christian in politics - rather than using her as an example of what he apparently does not want from Christian politicians. The fact that Mr. Hart actually trusts the research of the national media shows that he is unaware of the Journolist email listserv: Check out the Daily Caller's series of articles on Journolist [...].

Is Mr. Hart aware, for example, that despite Governor Palin's lived beliefs regarding right to life, she actually came under fire from Alaskan family and right to life groups, because she did not make it a part of her governing agenda? Because Governor Palin thought that it was more important to clean up the corruption among elected officials per the Constitution and ethical governing?

So.

I invite Mr. Hart to actually research Governor Palin's governing record before misusing her in his titles to sell books.

I repeat: How Christian is it to use name dropping to sell a book?

For Mr. Hart, 12 pages out of a 252-page book is apparently enough to sensationalize the title for sales. Since the book is currently #134,661 in sales at Amazon, I'm glad to see the cynical, sensational ploy didn't work.
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From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism
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