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Smell of Sawdust, The Paperback – October 30, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (October 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310231965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310231967
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,404,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Many evangelicals paint fundamentalism with the same broad, negative brush. But we owe more to our pietist-revivalist roots than we realize.

Richard Mouw’s awareness of fundamentalism’s problems hasn’t robbed his appreciation for its strengths. The Smell of Sawdust sheds thoughtful and revealing light on the colorful parentage of contemporary evangelicalism. If you detect fondness, even a hint of nostalgia, you’re right. From its history, to its ethos, to its mores and methods, Mouw takes you on a fascinating journey through the pros and cons of the "sawdust trail." Whatever your outlook on the revivalist tradition, whether favorable or not so favorable, these candid, thought-provoking insights will inspire your respect for fundamentalism’s strong points, help you learn from its weaknesses, and above all, enrich your life as a Christian. Like the author, you’ll find yourself singing the old gospel hymns with new understanding and depth.

Filled with anecdotes from the amusing to the poignant, this book takes you back to the sawdust-covered earth of the early tent meetings . . . earlier, to the spiritual hunger that sparked the pietist movement . . . and later, into today, where we strive to effectively communicate the nonnegotiables of our faith to a needy world.

The Smell of Sawdust is gentle and deeply personal. It is also wise--neither judgmental nor naive, but healing, furnishing redemptive insights into the character of our fundamentalist heritage. This book will broaden the perspective of thinking Christians who want to engage both their hearts and their intellects to reach the soul of our culture with the gospel.

About the Author

Richard J. Mouw (PhD, University of Chicago) is president and professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is a Beliefnet.com columnist and the author of numerous books.

More About the Author

Richard J. Mouw (PhD, University of Chicago) is president and professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is a Beliefnet.com columnist and the author of numerous books.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tom Hinkle on February 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Growing up in a mainline denomination, I was first identified as a "fundamentalist" by a lady in my church who was my Sunday School teacher when I was younger. At that time, I didn't know what a fundamentalist was. I simply believed the Bible was wholly true. Later on, I tried very hard to shed that label. I still believed the Bible, but I rejected dispensationalism, started to see that I could learn things from other streams of Christianity including (gasp!) Catholicism, and enjoyed "forbidden" pleasures like going to movies, listening to rock music, and playing cards. Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, points out that many of the values he learned growing up as a true-blue fundamentalist are nothing to be ashamed of, but rather to be appreciated. Indeed, there are many good things about fundamentalism that modern-day evangelicals can still embrace. There are some very helpful discussions included in this book. Some of the chapters deal with evangelical relationships with Catholics and Jews, the benefits of dispensationalism (many have come to Christ by reading Hal Lindsey, as much as some of us would hate to admit it), and social/political activism. The final chapter discusses "the simplicity beyond complexity", the fact that with all our theological sophistication we can still come to a place of wonder and simplicity. I, like Mouw, still would not call myself a fundamentalist, but there are still lessons to be learned from the old "sawdust trail".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Keith Johnston on December 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. Although it is short, it makes some significant points about the strengths and weaknesses of the fundamentalist movement in America. Written by Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, the book draws upon Mouw's personal experiences growing up, as well as with his later evaluation of those experiences using his tools as a philosophy professor. I grew up in a liberal mainline denomination and found myself, both in college and later, drawn to the passion and committment of a more conservative faith. This books helps to explain this attraction. It is must reading for anyone 'burned' by 'fundies' or anyone who looks at fundamentalism with the smug prejudice of a pharisee.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Fritz on December 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
A very close friend, a Baptist and supporter of Fuller Seminary, lent me "The Smell of Sawdust." As an ardent Catholic, I read it with ready-to-be-offended Catholic radar. Never was. Indeed, his treatment of Fr. George Rutler was quite nice, and Rutler is a hero of mine. For professional as well as personal reasons, I like reading about the differences between Fundamentalists and Evangelicals. George Marsden's "Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism" is also very good.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David L Rattigan on February 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a former evangelical, and have come to the point in my pilgrimage where I am able to offer a more balanced assessment of my evangelical past. Mouw, on the other hand, was brought up fundamentalist (in the historic sense of the word), is now evangelical, and tries here to reflect positively on what he gained from his fundamentalist heritage.
I should admit from the offset that Mouw was in general far too soft on fundamentalism for my tastes. But then, as he candidly admits, his "lengthy exposure to fundamentalism has not left [him] badly bruised," though he acknowledges for many others such is not the case.
I should also confess that I found some of his areas of agreement with fundamentalism a little puzzling: He seems to accept almost unquestioningly that a decline in "Christian" standards in society is reason for political action; he appears to suggest that if a book by Hal Lindsey can lead someone to Christ, dispensationalism is, in some small way, vindicated (could God be speaking despite Lindsey's dispensationalism rather than because of it?); indeed, Mouw has a habit of finding good points and then using them to vindicate fundamentalism, if only partially, but they are too often unconvincing (eg. dispensationalism is vindicated because it addresses the need for Christians to know something about the future -- a debatable point in any case -- but could you not vindicate Seventh-Day Adventism, or indeed any scheme of eschatological prediction, in the same way?).
Having said that, Mouw does manage to put across something of the "warm piety" of fundamentalist religion, the emphasis on closeness to and personal relationship with God. Indeed, that is what I will carry on with me from evangelicalism, despite its failings.
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