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Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism Paperback – December 26, 1990

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Marsden (American church history, Duke Univ.), who is considered an expert on fundamentalism, here looks at the interrelated movements of fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Part 1 gives a readable and informative overview of the rise of fundamentalism from 1870 on. It then examines evangelicalism as a separate phenomenon. Part 2 deals primarily with the views held by these groups on politics and science with a special analysis of why creation science is so important to them. This section also includes a close look at the career of J. Gresham Machen, a controversial fundamentalist scholar of the early 20th century. The author is especially good at showing the development of the conservative versus liberal controversy and the surprising appeal of modern fundamentalism for our technological age. Anyone who is interested in understanding this rapidly growing element in today's society will want to read this excellent analysis. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
- C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

Presenting a historical overview of fundamentalism and evangelicalism in America, this volume has been developed from a number of studies undertaken by George Marsden during the 1980's in efforts to understand the recent resurgence of these two movements.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (December 26, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802805396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802805393
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are cultural divisions in American society which mark nearly every modern political issue. For those of us who were born in the 1950's and later, and even for some older folks, these divisions may seem confusing, even incomprehensible. How did we get here? What is all the fuss about? Where did all these "conservative wackos" come from? Just who do they think they are?
We may recognize that we are divided, but many Americans don't actually understand just how deeply divided, as a nation, we really are. Nor do we understand the underlying issues that divide us, the issues which are finally at the core of many of our debates.
This book provides one way of understanding these important issues, from the inside out.
Marsden argues that the political and social conflicts we all see today were born out of certain features of the American religious life. He proves his case admirably, and succeeds in providing his readers with a deeper understanding of contemporary conflicts than they will ever receive from contemporary newspapers and magazines, or even from their high-school and college American history classes. All of these other sources tend to ignore religion as a factor in political and social life. For Marsden, it is central.
Marsden is able to show that our conflicts have their roots in the historical encounter of American Christians with the emerging "modern world." When American Christianity began to encounter "Modernity" -in all its many forms: developments in science, politics, academic scholarship, industry, economics, and city life- its own internal conflicts formed the patterns for the larger social and cultural divisions which are now so familiar to us all all.
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Format: Paperback
This book was broken into two main parts; history, and interpretation of history. The history, of course, concerns Christian fundamentalism and evangelicalism. While I was familiar with many of the names involved in recent American Protestant history, I was not familiar with their circumstances and the prevalent worldviews of the cultures that they lived in. This book was very interesting and helped to better understand the fundamentalism and evangelicalism that we have today.
I really enjoyed the first part of the book (history). In the second part of the book, there were essays written about two main subjects; politics and science. These essays tried to explain how fundamentalism and evangelicalism reacted to and changed these two areas. I especially enjoyed the essays pertaining to science because the issues that they faced in history are some of the same issues that Christians face today. The essays on politics were hard for me to follow, maybe because of my ignorance of political history. The last chapter was an essay trying to understand J. Gresham Machen. This essay was very insightful and very interesting.
I read this book for a class on `History of Fundamentalism', and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It took me five days to read the book and I spent almost twelve hours reading it. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in understanding the roots of `Conservative Christianity' and I would also recommend it as a `fun' read (except for chapters 3 and 4, they were not fun).
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Format: Paperback
How i got to this book is important about how i read and review it.
Started with a directed study of creation and evolution from a Christian viewpoint, see my webpage at fastucson.net/~rmwillia for more detail. After a few months of watching and participating in online debates i became interesting in what i saw to be a common element in the young earth creationist people. That was an elevation of the CED issue to one of a salvation issue. Frankly i was surprised and a little dismayed at this theological development. So i asked for help on trying to get a handle on fundamentalist theology. This was one of perhaps 5 books recommended by lots of people.
The book is unusual in the mix of tone and levels of sophistication between the chapters. It stems from the fact that this small volume is primarily a collection of essays from the author's much larger multiple volume work(_fundamentalism and the american culture) on the same topic. As a collection of essays, not particularly held together by design they are certainly representative of his thought, and probably the best of his work on the topic. But the chapters are not sequential or connected in a discernible way, other than the general chronological. In this case however this is not a criticism, the book flows fine anyhow. But what it does do is to make it possible to read chapters that you are primarily interested in, out-of-order, a nice feature.
What is the history of fundamentalism in america and why should i care? It's a big movement 25-45% of the population by most measurements. But more importantly it represents a criticism of modernism that is hard to miss.
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