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The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond Hardcover – January 5, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In one of the best products of the current publishing passion for authoritative briefs on big subjects, religious historian Balmer summarizes American Evangelicalism. There are four great turning points in American Evangelical history, he says: the transition from Calvinist to Arminian soteriology (i.e., from regarding grace to regarding conversion as essential to salvation) during the two Great Awakenings, the nineteenth-century eschatological shift from postmillennialism to premillennialism (i.e., from believing the Second Coming will follow to believing it will precede the realization of a Christian world), the creation of an apolitical subculture in the wake of the 1925 Scopes trial, and the rise of the religious Right; he devotes a chapter to each. Evangelicalism’s arguably greatest distinction is its malleability, as seems certainly attested by the polar nature of the change involved in the first and second developments as well as from the third to the fourth. Trenchantly criticizing the religious Right, Balmer hopes that twenty-first-century Evangelicalism will revive the nineteenth-century postmillenarian concern for justice that animated abolition, temperance, and woman suffrage. --Ray Olson

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"Balmer effectively argues, however, that the 'prophetic voice' of Evangelicals will ring more truly 'on the margins of society, not in the councils of power.'"―W. B. Bedford, Crown College, Choice

"Seldom has so short a volume produced as much bang as this gem by noted historian and sometime politician Randall Balmer. For those who seek a greater understanding of the peculiar successes of evangelicalism in the American environment there can be no better starting point than The Making of Evangelicalism."―Harry S. Stout, Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Religious History, Yale University

"... this small book tells a story that should not be forgotten."―Ré Stooksberry, Congressional Libraries Today

"Often challenging and at times provocative, The Making of Evangelicalism calls for serious reflection regarding evangelicalism's future. Even those who might disagree with Balmer's interpretations will profit from a serious reading and pondering of this engaging, lucidly written book."―David S. Dockery, President, Union University

"Trademark Balmer: he has written in his characteristically elegant prose―not just 'accessible,' but lovely―without sacrificing sophisticated analysis."―Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath

"The Making of Evangelicalism exhibits the acumen we have come to expect from its author. In eighty-four pages of sharp, passionate prose, Balmer manages to illustrate, instruct, redefine, excite, entertain, and most of all provoke, all the while tweaking the conscience of evangelicals as much as the curiosity of outside observers. His approach results in a remarkable book, one that can (and should) be read by anyone who wants to learn the basic history of this movement and measure its profound and enduring impact on American society."―The Journal of Southern Religion

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602582432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602582439
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Joel Holtz VINE VOICE on January 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a compact, yet compelling history of Evangelical Christianity. Best selling author Randall Balmer does an excellent job of highlighting four main moments in evangelical history, and each one is a history lesson in itself. THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SUBCULTURE may be the best.

He points out the damage done by the Religious Right, but yet is hopeful for evangelicalism, concluding that in fact it's future is bright and will continue to be "..America's folk religion well into the 21st century."

Balmer says the challenge for today's evangelicals is to position themselves on the margins of society.

The only quibble the reader might have is that some of the author's vocabulary is a bit hard to understand ("recondite," "evinced," "probity," "detritus") at times.
Other than that, this is a short and easy read and well worth the time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the real Book of Revelation, although most people will find it hard to believe the sensational disclosures Professor Randall Balmer makes toward the end of his little essay.

As Balmer is quick to mention, evangelicals come in several flavors. Balmer was raised in a Scandinavian, Pietist sect, different in style from the ranting Baptists of the South and California. But most evangelicals would probably agree that all of them have the same goal, however much they disapprove of the style the other guys use.

If you have ever had to chase evangelicals off your porch, you will perhaps be amused to find that Balmer divides gall into four parts:

Three influences — Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism, continental Pietism and New England Puritanism — fed into a distinctly American religion. Balmer does not mention that the colonials were virtually unchurched, especially on the southern and western frontiers. That left them open and defenseless for the first phase:

— The Great Awakening and revivalism. From the point of view of all non-evangelicals, the key factor was the intense competition and hatred of each cult for each other. That led them to reject state religion and embrace — even if only tactically, locally and temporarily — civic freedoms.

Balmer, largely sympathetic to evangelicalism, portrays this as a big break, competition giving Americans a church (or churches) they liked and thus leading to a density of religiosity unmatched in any other advanced country.

It was a time of optimism (unless you were a slave or an Indian) which led to a crisis.
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Format: Hardcover
Balmer's work is short and succinct, written in very readable prose. His tracing of the evolution of evangelicalism is very interesting, making history far more interesting than it usually comes off. He presents a fascinating progression, mostly giving a fair explanation for the various turning points of evangelicalism, though there are perhaps a few missing pieces and some aspects of the movement that are unmentioned, though this is hardly unexpected given the short length of the book. Additionally, I might have preferred a more impartial view of the history, as his liberal perspective becomes a bit too prominent especially toward the end, as he turns to prescription rather than description. Regardless, for such a thin book, it's an excellent, readable depiction of the movement's history that would be instructive, perhaps especially for those who call themselves evangelical.
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Format: Hardcover
To try to lead spiritually without a Church's backing. "The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond" discusses Evangelicalism in America. Randall Balmer traces its history of how it came to be, its roots in politics, and its role today, and how many sects and branches of Christianity have their own evangelists with their own goals. "The Making of Evangelicalism" is an intriguing discussion of a major force in American history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent summation of the roots of American protestants.
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