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The Accidental Revolutionary: George Whitefield and the Creation of America Hardcover – August 15, 2011


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The Accidental Revolutionary: George Whitefield and the Creation of America + Preaching Politics: The Religious Rhetoric of George Whitefield and the Founding of a New Nation (Studies in Religion and Rhetoric)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press (August 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602583919
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602583917
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The revivalist George Whitefield was the best-known person in eighteenth-century America, yet he remains almost forgotten among Americans today. Mahaffey offers a readable and revealing introduction to the life of this brilliant preacher and friend of American liberty."

--Thomas S. Kidd, Associate Professor of History, Baylor University, and author of God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution



"Mahaffey points out that Whitefield's preaching provided the template for a new way of viewing the world and for Americans to view themselves. ... Students of American history and students of the preaching art will benefit from this book."

--The Baptist Standard



"Mahaffey has put all students and scholars of the 18th-century transatlantic revivals--events that so hugely shaped both the British and the emerging American cultures--in his debt with this incisive and compelling work. His research will help all who seek to better understand this critically important period by providing new insights into the seminal importance of the too often neglected figure of George Whitefield."

--Richard Land, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention

"Mahaffey shows how Whitefield's bold challenge to settled religious doctrines and hierarchies helped coax the colonies in the direction of independence."

--Christianity Today (Oct. 2011)

"In this sparkling biography of the famed 18th century revivalist George Whitefield, Mahaffey argues that his enduring importance in American history lies in politics as much as in religion. A masterful stylist, Mahaffey brings fresh perspectives to old arguments and makes them live again in remarkably arresting ways."

--Grant Wacker, Professor of Christian History, Duke Divinity School



"Mahaffey has written an insightful rhetorical genealogy showing how the interplay of religious and political themes of the Great Awakening fostered the birth of a distinctively American republican identity."

--John Angus Campbell, Professor Emeritus, Department of Communication, University of Memphis

From the Inside Flap

A compelling tale of a forgotten truth: no Whitefield, no revolution

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jacob on December 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is best described as a political biography. Mahaffey's argument is that Whitefield's concepts of the new birth formed the framework that would allow the colonists to secede from Great Britain. It's an interesting argument and he is correct on many particulars, but I am not convinced of its full explanatory power.

Mahaffey gives a decent account of Whitefield's early life, even implicitly criticizing the venerable Harry Stout's reading of Whitefield as simply an actor parroting religious vocabulary.

The reviewer is not entirely satisfied with Mahaffey's reading of Calvinist soteriology. Mahaffey makes it seem like Calvinists didn't know what to do with pleading for sinners to repent, given their understanding of God's sovereignty. Perhaps there is a certain antinomy here, but older Puritans and Scottish evangelists faced no such problem. True, Whitefield's theology was a breath of fresh air on the scene, but Whitefield didn't say anything new. In fact, he would heatedly reject that idea!

Mahaffey has a number of interesting chapters on Whitefield's relationship with the Church of England. Of most fascination (pp. 86ff.) is his suggestion that the bishops hired assassins to off Whitefield. Mahaffey's argument is fairly impressive, though he admits he has no definitive proof (one should remember, however, that Anglican bishops eighty years earlier openly supported the killing of Scottish Covenanters, so it is not an entirely far-fetched argument).

Mahaffey argues that Whitefield's transcending of denominational lines democratized American political rhetoric, creating a "new birth" of America which is a secularized counterpart to the Great Awakening.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this very much. As an Englishman and fan of Whitefield (though not with rose-tinted glasses) it was interesting to see how Whitefield's ministry awakened people to independent mindedness. I was also amused to see that the author must be a fan of the Argentinian Osvaldo "Ossie" Ardiles, who could never manage to say "Tottenham" (the team he played for) and always said "Tottingham" – a mistake the author makes when referring to Whitefield's Tottenham Court Road Chapel. This is a much lighter book than the author's "Preaching Politics".
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tootsie on December 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be very interesting and making me - not- want to put it down. Well written, the author allows me to see it as if it were a movie playing in my head. Each chapter building like a storm and leading up to the most exciting event in the course of our forgotten American history. Please bring on more books about the talented George Whitefield for us all to understand how we managed to make this journey as to where we are as a nation today. Thank you for asking.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By HistoryNerd on April 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
While it's an intriguing idea, there are considerable problems with this book. The first of which, is that Mahaffrey fails to account for the fact that Whitefield died 5 years before the outbreak of the American Revolution. Now, this doesn't mean that his writings didn't influence Early American evangelicals, but you can't be a founding father if you died before many of the major events that led up to the Revolution even occurred. Mahaffrey also ignores virtually all of the 17th century rhetoric about religious tolerance that were essential to Whitefield's thinking, and conflates British religious tolerance with American religious liberty. While religious liberty eventually evolved from the rhetoric of tolerance, they are two entirely different concepts with their own separate sets of theo-political underpinnings. The research into this book is also virtually non-existent. Saul Cornell's book is much better if you are interested in understanding dissenters, anti-federalism and what they thought of the Constitution. If you want a good scholarly examination of Whitefield, go read Lambert's 'Pedlar in Divinity.'
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