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Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the New Millennium Paperback – October 25, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Miller (religion, Univ. of Southern California) analyses what he calls "new paradigm churches." He bases his well-researched work on three churches that got their start in Southern California: Calvary Chapel, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and Hope Chapel. Unlike more mainline evangelical churches that they resemble, these groups appeal primarily to young, middle-class families. Offering a unique blend of contemporary culture and life-transforming spirituality, they are growing rapidly as mainline churches decline. These groups are contemporary and casual in style, have very little doctrine or hierarchy, and seem to make great use of lay members in many aspects of ministry. Miller sees these churches as embodying no less than a new Protestant Reformation, with the common people reclaiming religion from the elite clergy, and he makes an interesting case for his assertion. An excellent book with some new insights; recommended for public and academic libraries.?C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

One of the most engaging, insightful discussions yet of American Protestantism's recent trend toward ``postdenominational'' churches. Miller (Religion/Univ. of Southern Calif.) uses his sociology training to contextualize a phenomenon that scholars have too breezily dismissed: Americans are leaving the mainline churches in droves, and many are finding spiritual homes in what Miller calls ``new paradigm'' churches that often rent space in shopping malls and warehouses because they have no facilities of their own. These churches, like the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Calvary Chapel, and Hope Chapel, emphasize a common evangelical theology. But they have resisted incorporation into denominations, reflecting their baby-boomer leaders' distrust of established institutions. Dress is casual, ministers are often untrained, and adherents are encouraged to take an active role in congregational growth. Miller maintains that the burst of new paradigm churches represents nothing less than a second Protestant Reformation; these churches are abandoning the staid cultural forms of traditional Protestantism (organs, choirs, and vestments) in favor of newer ones that young people find culturally relevant (guitars, small support groups, and beach baptisms). New paradigm churches have reinvigorated Luther's ``priesthood of all believers'' with their stress on lay-led Bible studies and healing circles. One reason Miller's study works so well is that he takes these new rituals seriously and claims that they fill a very real spiritual need. In particular, where traditional Protestantism has emphasized the rational at the expense of the experiential, new paradigm churches fill this void through physical healings and deeply felt personal conversions. This elegant book offers something for everyone: Scholars will appreciate Miller's well-conceived sociological positioning of this phenomenon (with particular nods to William James and Robert Bellah), and other folks will value the compelling personal testimonies. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Revised ed. edition (October 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520218116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520218116
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,574,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By William Roy Jr. on November 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
CalvaryChapels has been an "underground" church for over 25 years now - an alternative for the typical lifeless church down the street. Now someone has studied this phenomenon to see why it continues to grow and attract more people (often from non-religious backgrounds). The same for Vineyards & HopeChapels (which both have intersecting histories with CalvaryChapel). The personal stories are touching and fascinating, The research is exhaustive if not exhausting. The author belongs to a mainline church and periodically shows his amazement at these new church movements. They were all built on simplicity of faith, by those whose lives were radically changed by Jesus Christ (often people who would be the last ones you would expect). A little too much psychology & sociology throughout but the author is a professor and the book is published by a university press.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent introduction to some of the most interesting contemporary developments within American Christianity. For those with experience in traditional, mainline churches, what the book describes will seem strange but a growing number of new believers only know this type of church as what "church" is supposed to be. Since many new paradigm churches have large attendance, they are able to financially support the start of other new paradigm churches. Indeed, new paradigm churches may well become the new normal of church life in America.

For two in-depth case studies of a new paradigm church, see Gerardo Marti's A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church and also his book Hollywood Faith: Holiness, Prosperity, and Ambition in a Los Angeles Church.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For readers interested in four specific movements within the greater body of Christian believers, this book has value. The book is replete with accounts and observations that give a sense of the appeal and uniqueness of the movements that comprise a significant subculture in modern Christendom.
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Format: Paperback
Miller gives a detail look at the Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, and to a lesser extent Hope Chapel movements - looking for sociological reasons for their growth.

In his introduction and first chapel, he notes how the mainline denominations in America have been in decline for several decades, while more conservative movements, like those of the Pentecostal and charismatic persuasion have been growing. This contradicted earlier theories of religion in sociological circles who contended that the theological liberal churches would survive in an increasingly liberal secular culture.

Miller, instead, has endorsed a "religious markets" view. Borrowing from free markets economic theories (which, in turn, are based on rational thought theories), Miller contends that many conservative churches have done a better job of marketing and delivering their product (the gospel) and do a better job of maintaining customer loyalty (membership, attendees). These movements have flatter, more postmodern organizational structures that allows quick development of leaders and high involvement of "laity."
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Format: Paperback
This is an insightful exploration of the so-called third wave or new paradigm churches from a scholar who presents the information in a readable fashion. The author is an outsider, yet he provides a favorable account of these rapidly-growing, Pentecostal-type congregations that all originated in California. It is a great book for anyone who is interested in the contemporary Christian scene. It is filled with stories, keen observations, balanced analyses, and surveys on the movement.
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