- Paperback: 462 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (June 30, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591022177
- ISBN-13: 978-1591022176
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Leaving The Fold: Testimonies Of Former Fundamentalists Paperback – June 30, 2003
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The contributors are all white men except for one latino contributor. All were protestant fundamentalists who became moderate evangelicals, liberal protestants, or helped liberalize their denominations. Others were fundamentalists who embraced non-Christian religions, agnosticism, or atheism. The only category omitted is fundamentalist protestants who moved to a non-protestant form of Christianity or another of the monotheistic, Abrahamic faiths, Judaism or Islam. (The editor himself has a somewhat unique story since he was raised Catholic, became an Evangelical, and then moved onto agnosticism.)
Most of the contributors are quite old today if they are still living. Former Harvard divinity school theologian Harvey Cox is probably the best known now, but others were famous in their day, like Robert Ingersoll and Bishop John William Colenso. Evangelist Charles Templeton was Billy Graham's "gold dust twin" with a Sunday TV program, Look Up and Live. He was famous in both Canada and the U.S. as the only evangelist chosen by the U.S. Council of Churches to represent them. The Unitarian Reverend Charles Francis Potter debated noted Fundamentalist Rev. John Roach Straton in Carnegie Hall. Others like Austin Miles rubbed shoulders with famous televangelists.
Two contemporary contributors represent fringe biblical theology and philosophy today from a skeptical perspective. Robert M. Price is a member of the Jesus Seminar who is a well-known "mythicist" who has debated Bart Ehrman and William Lane Craig about the historicity of Jesus and the Bible. Dennis Ronald MacDonald, a New Testament scholar, contends the New Testament is a mythic synthesis that responds to the Homeric epics.
This may not be what every reader is looking for, but I most appreciated the historical perspective of the oldest sources and contributors for the insights they offer on white protestant fundamentalism in America. Some of the older autobiographies are from men who were in their prime before or not long after the 1940s. A few who had academic or pastoral careers provide great insights into how much American protestantism has changed from early or pre-fundamentalist times to the late 20th century when the religious right merged its theology with political ideology and a sub-cultural, counter-cultural identity. The long view provided by some of the authors reminds us that fundamentalism was created and cultivated relatively recently, in specific places for specific reasons.
There is no editorial attempt to interpret or analyze the stories in this book, but some common themes emerge that will not surprise anyone: people raised in more cult-like expressions of Christianity are likely to leave when they recognize them as diseased, dysfunctional, and damaging. People who experience bigotry, abuse, or other vicious behavior are likely to leave when they recognize the harm being done to them and others. People who experience extremely ignorant, irrational, and anti-intellectual behavior in their religious community are likely to leave it when they recognize these traits for what they are. In all the stories in this book, their authors experience epiphanies along these lines and respond by changing their faith and position relative to their religious origins.
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And thats OK if you take it for what it is, but remember that when Christians...Read more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Mostly because I could identify with so much of the personal experiences of the...Read more