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Liberalism without Illusions: Renewing an American Christian Tradition Paperback – February 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602582084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602582088
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,691,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Evans (The Kingdom Is Always but Coming), a professor of church history at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, makes no pretensions about the scope of his work. This book does not include a comprehensive view or extensive history of liberal theology-that can be found elsewhere, and in much larger tomes. Instead, he sets out to reclaim and rejuvenate this misunderstood, formerly vibrant, and ostensibly weakening movement in American Christianity. To rejuvenate any school of thought, that school must be understood, and here Evans is at his finest. He begins by immediately confronting the pejorative meaning the "culture wars" have attached to the word "liberal" and follows by proposing a new foundation on which to build a more historical, rather than hyped, understanding of liberal Christianity. Finally, Evans transcends the limits of stereotypical "ivory tower history" by offering more than just analysis. He offers solutions. The liberal Christian movement in America is not dead, he concludes, and history shows how to prevent it from dying. Anyone interested in 20th- and 21st-century American Christianity needs to read and consider the suggestions Evans has to offer.

Review

A strong argument for the appeal and relevance of a liberal theology. Evans brings the liberal and evangelical stories into a compelling conversation, making a case for a liberal theology that reclaims its evangelical roots and its place in the life and witness of the church. --Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor of Religion, Columbia University

Evans transcends the limits of stereotypical "ivory tower history" by offering more than just analysis. He offers solutions.... Anyone interested in 20th- and 21st-century American Christianity needs to read and consider the suggestions Evans has to offer. --Publisher's Weekly, 1/26/2010

Evans is an expert guide for the liberal Protestant tradition, showing us the lost treasure and nuggets of power and wisdom that can and should be harvested. This book is an antidote against those who separate piety and social action, levying a powerful argument that any adequate theology enables church leaders to inspire its members to love justice, seek mercy, and walk humbly in service to the world. It is a prophetic call and important reminder of the dangerous good news of an applied gospel waiting to be lived. --James K. Wellman Jr., author of Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Boyte on March 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
There was a time when many of America's tallest steeple churches were served by theologically liberal pastors. Liberal theology was taught in the most respected seminaries and divinity schools and lay people were not ashamed to be called "liberal". This well-written book explains the reason for that development and the causes of its decay. Five chapters deal with the history of theological liberalism in the United States and the last two chapters deal with the present situation. The author believes that liberalism still has a place in American life, though it will not reclaim its former prominence. The concluding chapter discusses the issues that must be faced in order for theological liberalism to regain its relevance.

The author has written other books in this field and writes with assurance, authority and grace. Although it was not intended to be a catalog of successful efforts to reestablish liberalism in churches today, the book would have been strengthened if some examples had been discussed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Martin E. Schmidt on January 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
While the word "liberal" has become a label of derision in some American political discourse, and the term "liberal Christian" challenges common stereotypes, Evans reminds readers that historically, Christian leaders, such as Walter Rauschenbusch, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, have often engaged society with distinctly liberal beliefs: the God of the Bible cares about social justice, society can be improved, and Christians should not only contribute to society, but can learn from it as well. While this book delves into the historical roots of American Christian liberalism, it never strays far from questions relevant to contemporary Christian teachers, pastors, and activists who want to remain faithful to their Christian heritage, yet be committed to causes typically seen as "socially progressive." Evans' book candidly highlights the important intellectual tradition of American Christian liberalism, while also addressing its weaknesses. This well-written book concludes with specific questions for liberal Christians, such as: are liberals addressing the deepest needs and anxieties of this culture? (146); how do liberals see themselves as continuing to shape the larger Christian heritage (153)?
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By David C Germann on February 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
Evans offers helpful and insightful analysis of the liberal tradition (or traditions) within American Protestantism. Evans's voice is that of a compassionate insider, gently renouncing the easy polarization and dismissals within the Protestant tribes. Could liberals actually care about transcendence and the salvation of the soul? Could evangelicals (and fundamentalists) recognize the enormous complexities of biblical criticism? Evans invites the reader to consider these miracles of miracles.
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Liberalism without Illusions: Renewing an American Christian Tradition
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