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

3.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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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: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,152,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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, but...it'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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I like this book quite a bit. It digs deep into a subject I care deeply about. Anyone concerned about the future of the conservative movement should become as educated as possible on the dangers of the mega church preachers and their misguided leadership in the field of politics and society at large.

Disturbing could be the title of this book. It is very instructive and I hope read by many. I applaud the authors for their meticulous research.

Now for removing one of the five stars. I found parts of the book to be redunant and chasing it's own tail. This made it a more difficult read than I had hoped for. Still yet, a wonderful book that is highly recommended.

Michael L Gooch
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This book is important and needed. That said it overplays the hand as dealt. The authors purportedly pit evangelical scholars against "the anointed" but the scholars get little coverage and what is wrong with the anointed gets the focus of negative attention.

This creates two concerns. The first is that in the thesis the scholars are declared to be evangelicals but the term evangelical quickly gets relegated to those the authors eschew. A clearer distinction should have been made (possibly evangelical scholars believe... vs evangelical populists believe...) in order to prevent the simple title evangelical becoming a slur. Second, in using their book as a bully stick against what they believe is wrong with popular evangelicalism the authors close the door to conversation in a similar manner to those they critique.

This book would be of greater value to the Christian community if it was used to truly discuss the challenges created by the anointed rather than put their failings on display. Further, in addition to potentially alienating any evangelical reader, this work will simply reinforce the anti-evangelical opinions of academics and pseudo-academics. Anti-intellectualism is a serious problem with popular evangelical circles. Anti-evangelicalism is also a problem. The authors could have used their book to greater advantage had they sought to do more highlighting of the scholars within evangelicalism and less effort berating populists.

The result is that this book can be an excellent resource for those Christians in the middle. Those seeking a genuine practice of their faith that accepts the questions and mystery of God on one hand and the things science teaches of God's creation on the other will find great value in this book. For those on either extreme it will only reinforce the opinion that evangelicals are intellectually stunted on one side and that "the world is out to get us" on the other.
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