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The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age Hardcover – November 23, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Stephens and Giberson have produced a stunning and well-documented indictment of the evangelical right wing. Here is a 'must read' for anyone wanting an insight into one of the most powerful religious-political movements in modern American culture. (Owen Gingerich, author of God's Universe)

Two talented writers join forces to introduce us to some of the most influential religious and cultural leaders in contemporary America--such 'experts' as Ken Ham, David Barton, James Dobson, and Hal Lindsey. I know of no better place to discover how the conservative half of America lives and thinks. (Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists: From Creation Science to Intelligent Design)

This is an important book on a pressing topic that should be read by everyone concerned with the place of religion in American life today. (Michael Ruse, author of The Evolution-Creation Struggle)

The Anointed demonstrates how questionable 'experts' emerge and flourish within American evangelicalism. Stephens and Giberson function as knowledgeable guides into this intriguing--and troubling--'parallel universe.' (Randall Balmer, author of The Making of Evangelicalism)

[Stephens and Giberson] rise triumphantly to the challenge of explaining the leaders and the culture of the religious Right without rancor or condescension. (Ray Olson Booklist 2011-10-15)

The Anointed is one of the best and most important books on religion published this year. It is a well-written, well-argued study that penetrates to the heart of modern evangelical culture. Stephens and Giberson have done an excellent job of critiquing what Mark Noll has called the "scandal of the evangelical mind" (the scandal, wrote Noll, is "that there is not much of an evangelical mind") while empathetically explaining why so many evangelicals are smitten with dubious experts. Evangelicals who take the intellect seriously, as well as outsiders struggling to understand the evangelical sub-culture, will benefit from their hard work and keen insights. (Matthew Avery Sutton Christian Century 2011-11-15)

In The Anointed, Randall J. Stephens and Karl W. Giberson, professors at evangelical Eastern Nazarene College near Boston, draw a fascinating group portrait of today's most popular intellectual leaders among evangelicals and attempt to explain why so many of the faithful buy their arguments...One of the principal virtues of The Anointed is that it represents an effort to demonstrate that the evangelical community is not a monolith of the unthinking. (Kevin M. Schultz Wilson Quarterly 2011-09-01)

Neither an expose nor a screed, The Anointed is the work of educated evangelical Christians who reject the kitsch and anti-intellectualism that outsiders tend to equate with the faith itself...There are evangelicals who reject fundamentalism, find apocalyptic revenge fantasies distasteful, and don't see any reason why God wouldn't bless same-sex unions. The Anointed seems to be written for such readers--to explain the history and internal dynamics of the evangelical subculture, perhaps as a step towards changing it. As a report on the parallel culture of evangelical Christianity, the book is well-researched and intelligently composed. (Scott McLemee Inside Higher Ed 2011-11-23)

The Anointed [is] a field guide to the evangelical experts you haven't heard of--but should...Why would anyone heed ersatz "experts" over trained authorities far more qualified to comment on the origins of life or the worldview of the founding fathers? Drawing on case studies of evangelical gurus, Stephens and Giberson argue that intellectual authority works differently in the "parallel culture" of evangelicalism. In this world of prophecy conferences and home-schooling curriculums, a dash of charisma, a media empire and a firm stance on the right side of the line between "us" and "them" matter more than a fancy degree...The Anointed condemns the current state of evangelical intellectual life, but Stephens and Giberson avoid monolithic stereotypes. They are careful to note that evangelicals disagree wildly among themselves about almost everything. (Molly Worthen New York Times)

With its coverage of wide-ranging figures and issues, the book reveals important facets of ways evangelicals maintain both their ideology and boundaries in what they perceive as a threatening culture. This insightful work is an important contribution to readers' understanding of the ways evangelicals maintain their self-identity and worldview. (A. W. Klink Choice 2012-03-01)

In their new book, The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, Randall Stephens and Karl Giberson explain the nature of intellectual insularity of so many in this world, in which "the teachings of dubiously credentialed leaders are favored over the word of secular experts in the arts and sciences."...The authors describe "what amounts to a 'parallel culture,'" where people like alleged "historian" David Barton...proffer[s] phony-baloney history lessons that distort almost everything professional historians know to be true about America's founders. (Eric Alterman The Nation 2011-12-12)

About the Author

Randall J. Stephens is Reader in History and American Studies at Northumbria University.

Karl W. Giberson is former professor of physics at Eastern Nazarene College and author of several books on science and religion.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (October 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674048180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674048188
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 53 people found the following review helpful By George P. Wood VINE VOICE on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As I read The Anointed, my feelings of ambivalence toward it increased.

On the one hand, I agree with its indictment of evangelical anti-intellectualism. The fact that so many of my co-religionists take their scientific cues from Ken Ham rather than Francis Collins, their historical cues from David Barton rather than Mark Noll, and their eschatological cues from Hal Lindsey rather than George Eldon Ladd does not speak well of their good judgment. How Ham, Barton, and Lindsey (among others) become "the anointed"--that is, leading spokesmen both in and for our community--does not speak well for our leadership development pipeline, which too often emphasizes charisma over academic training, simplistic sloganeering over complex thought, and social withdrawal from than rather critical engagement with secular culture.

On the other hand, I am puzzled by the language and venue in which Randall Stephens and Karl Giberson have published their indictment. Both men are evangelical scholars, but throughout The Anointed, they speak of their fellow evangelicals in detached, third-person language. This gives the book an anthropologist-from-Mars feel. They explain common evangelical beliefs and practices, apparently on the assumption that their readers have never heard of them. And they published their indictment through Harvard University Press and, in abbreviated form, on the op-ed pages of The New York Times.

Both the language and the venue made me wonder who their intended readers are. If their intended readers are fellow evangelicals, both the language and the venue are strange choices. Why speak about "them" in detached, third-person language when they could speak about "us"?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Froehlich on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Evangelical Christian premise is that scripture is flawless and can be understood by a "plain reading." That premise leads most evangelicals to reject science where it conflicts with their interpretation of scripture.

The Anointed illustrates that rejection by profiling four of the most high-profile evangelical leaders. Ken Ham, David Barton, James Dobson and Tim LaHaye. These men have all attracted a large following and are generally regarded by their followers as anointed by God to speak Christian truth.

Almost two-thirds of evangelicals reject evolution. The nation's leading defender of creationism is Ken Ham, who heads up a multimillion dollar ministry called Answers in Genesis (AIG), has a radio show on 1,000 stations, and in 2007 opened the $27 million Creation Museum in Boone County, Kentucky.

The Creation Museum purports to show that the Bible is true and that God created the Earth in six literal days. Evolution is to blame, according to Ham and other creationists, for homosexuality, abortion and prayer being driven out of the public schools. "There is a war going on in society. The war is Christianity vs. humanism,'s really creation vs. evolution." - Ken Ham, The Lie: Evolution (1987)

As Stephens and Giberson point out, many Biblical scholars, including some evangelicals, have concluded that Genesis creation is not literal history. The Catholic Church has long concluded there is no fundamental conflict between between faith and evolution.

David Barton of WallBuilders is the leading "Christian America" historian today, following in the tradition of Peter Marshall and Francis Schaeffer. In 2005, Time named Barton one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ilya Muromets Books on April 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book gives an engaging and thoughtful summary of the often simplified and generalized evangelical worldview. It shows that evangelicals have a much broader spectrum of thought and beliefs, however, historically have been biased in their appearance through the misrepresentation of media and prominent extremist evangelicals. It also points out that evangelicals still have a long way to go. I have personally enjoyed the scholarly criticism and skepticism of both writers. They are both evangelicals that are promptly criticizing a number of other evangelicals (and non-Christians as well) f or their inconsistency of thought, extremism and arrogance and for the misrepresentation of evangelicals as a whole.
There are few criticisms that I partially disagree with. For example, in chapter two, they criticize Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri which he founded. Although they do a good job at criticizing Schaeffer's theology, I think they have overdone it with unnecessary skepticism. Schaeffer, even though being an extremist in some way regarding his theology, has made a sincere effort in loosening the strictness of conservative evangelicals by inviting for religious and non-religious engagement. Thus, I would argue that his views were not as conservative then at his time as they are seen now. I do not think that Francis Schaeffer could be put with Ken Ham and Jerry Falwell on the same line of criticism.
The authors state: "The Schaeffer's had embarked on a bold campaign, joining Marshall to reclaim America for Christ." I would disagree with this statement since the Schaeffer's were promoting more Christian integration in every field and not necessarily only in politics.
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