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The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys (History of Evangelicalism) Paperback – June 26, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the inaugural volume of an anticipated five-volume history of evangelicalism, Noll, one of the deans of American church history, eloquently chronicles the development of evangelicalism in North America and Britain. Defining evangelicalism by four key ingredients (conversion, the Bible, missionary activity and the centrality of the cross in atonement for sin), Noll traces the contours of religious movements between 1730 and 1790 that he argues formed the core of the evangelical approach to Christianity. Paving the way for the revivals and religious reforms in the colonies, Noll points out, were the increasing dissatisfaction with the established church in England and the subsequent rise of reform movements such as Puritanism and Pietism. Primary among the leaders in colonial evangelicalism were Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and John Wesley, each of whom led people in life-changing revivals emphasizing conversion and atonement. The latter part of the 18th century witnessed the formation of a variety of religious groups—including Baptists and Methodists—flying the evangelical banner. Admirably, Noll incorporates materials on the roles of women and blacks in evangelicalism, pointing out that writers such as Hannah More and Olaudah Equiano, a former slave, offer compelling views on the relationship between gender and race and evangelical religion. Many will find it strange that Noll anachronistically baptizes Edwards as an evangelical when he saw himself as a Calvinist. Otherwise, Noll's fine study is marked by his usual graceful style and his peerless insights into American religious history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Carefully researched and well-written analysis. . . . Pleasingly clear writing style. . . . This book is highly recommended as a reliable and insightful account of the rise of evangelical Christianity." (Mark Hepner, Ashland Theological Journal)

"There is to date no more succinct or accessible an introduction to the far-flung networks of friendships and rivalries that inspired these transforming cultural movements." (The Journal of Religion)

"This remarkable book provides an illuminating synthesis of the origins of evangelical culture. Noll travels easily across Great Britain, the European continent and North America, uncovering the intricate interplay of heroic theologians and their disciples, transformative ideas, and responsive congregants. He balances revealing examples against strikingly clear presentations of theologies within the social and political cultures of instability that included religious warfare, Atlantic exploration and settlement, and the rise of commercial capitalism. The result is a powerful narrative that envisions evangelicalism as the product of its era as well as an ascendant force that would change radically the nature of religious culture in Britain and North America." (Marilyn J. Westerkamp, University of California, Santa Cruz)

"Evangelicalism is heart-religion upheld and propelled by a variety of aids both temporal and spiritual. The historical form of the religion we are familiar with is of relatively recent vintage, but its seeds can be traced to ancient soil. Mark Noll's book describes the eighteenth-century background of evangelicalism, showing how its taproot gave us a large trans-Atlantic stem of awakening, and how that in turn produced a good number of branches and no small amount of fruit. Without ignoring the bramble mixed with the fruit, Noll offers an authoritative, surefooted guide through the halls of fractious contention and unyielding disputations that marked the origins of evangelical thought. It is clear from his account that excitement was linked to vigilant wariness and fastidious attention to ideas. The book is a valuable summary of an important force in eighteenth-century intellectual thought and ideas." (Lamin Sanneh, historian of religion, professor at Yale University and coauthor of Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa)

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Product Details

  • Series: History of Evangelicalism (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (June 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838912
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Cosand on July 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a scientist with an interest in church history, not a professional historian. But in my limited view, this is an important book. Covering the period of 1740 to 1795, it is the first of a five volume series edited by Noll on the history of evangelicalism. It appears to be a scholarly treatment of a topic of which I knew relatively little.

I knew something about Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys but, if nothing else, this book was worth reading to learn the striking story of William McCulloch, "a somewhat colourless parish minister" in the village of Cambuslang, just outside Glasgow. Despite John Wesley's view that Scots were a people that "hear much, know everything, and feel nothing", MuCulloch appears to have been a dedicated pastor who loved his parishioners and they reciprocated by responding to his preaching. At communion time in 1742 a reawakening broke out in this village that changed the course of the Scottish Kirk. I wish I had known William McCulloch.

I am struck by Noll's description of how this movement, refusing to be constrained by socioeconomic barriers, spread to every stratum of society, including the slaves of the Caribbean and North America. Noll's distinction of how this resulted in Abolition in England while having a different result in the United States is thought provoking and distressing.

There is an excellent index that allows one to return to the historical details that one rapidly forgets. But the most striking portion of this book is the last chapter. One of the important topics Noll treats here is the role of hymnody in this movement.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on October 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always admired Mark Noll as one of the foremost historians in the evangelical community. His scholarship is balanced, his judgments are nuanced, and his work is meticulous. What he hasn't been in the past is interesting and fun to read.

That has changed with this compelling first volume in a five volume series on evangelical history. Mark discusses the three antecedents of American and British evangelicalism: Pietism, Calvinism, and high church Anglicanism. He highlights influential works by Cotton mather and Jacob Spener, and he depicts the spiritual lethargic landscape in the days prior to the Northampton revival of 1734.

He then discusses the powerful ministries of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and John and Charles Wesley. He shows how evangelicalism was shaped by what God did through their preaching and writing. He underscores epochal sermons by Edwards on justification, and Whitefield's inspiring extemporaneous sermons that took the colonies by storm.

This is a fast reading book which holds your attention from the very first page. I had a hard time wading through some of Mark Noll's other books (America's God was tough reading, History of Christianity in the US and Canada was somewhat tough as well, but this one is right up there with Doug Sweeney's American Evangelical Movement. Thumbs up!!!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By H. Monroe on August 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This work is the first in a projected 5 volume series on the history of evangelicalism. It explains the origins of the movement in a confluence of English, Continental pietist, and American Puritan influences in the first half of the eighteenth century, and follows the movement through 1795.

Due to the involvement of evangelicals in politics in recent years, there is a great deal of interest by those outside the movement in coming to a better understanding of who evangelicals are. This book would make a good start. Hopefully, the forthcoming volumes will further the story as effectively as this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Longoria on February 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Noll does a great job of listing the history of how Evangelicalism came about. The men that he writes about are interesting themselves and Noll has perked my interests to read some biography's on men like Edwards, and the Wesley's. This book also does a great job of keeeping you interested in the reading. I highly recomend this book to anyone intereted in finding out where Evangelicalism as a whole came from.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scamp Lumm on November 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
'Aaa, aa, aa, aa, aa, LE, EE, LU, UU, IA/MADE LIKE HIM, LIKE HIM WE RISE/Aaa, aa, aa, aa, aa, LE, EE, LU, UU, IA/


Aaa, aa, aa, aa, aa, LE, EE, LU, UU, IA'

Charles and John Wesley wrote "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" in 1739 and is usually sung every single Easter Service, at least in all protestant denominations. I have so many fond memories of singing this hymn and a million others of the Wesley brothers in the various protestant denominational churches I've belonged to and visited. The last chapter of this historical book is dedicated to the hymnody which was dominated by the Wesleys, particularly Charles, and which characterized the century in which they lived and worked. This book is the first book of 5 under the title of "A History of Evangelicalism: People, Movements, and Ideas in the English-Speaking World". Since this book is a history book, and since most, like me, will not be familiar with a lot of people mentioned in it, it's not so easy to read, especially in the beginning. The last book of this 5 part collection covers the times of Billy Graham and hence should be infinitely easier to read since most people know quite a bit about his work having seen and heard him in person.

But our ancestors in America, 300 years ago, certainly had heard of Edwards, of course the Wesleys, and especially of George Whitefield. George Whitefield was incredibly influential as Mark Noll explains in the Introduction in this book. The British born George Whitefield traveled and preached in 7 of the 13 colonies and to at least half of the population of those seven. For those Americans who still doubt that this country was ever a Christian nation, the historical, written records scream the truth.
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