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Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical's Lament Hardcover – July 3, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Describing himself as "a jilted lover" whose evangelical faith "has been hijacked by right-wing zealots," Balmer accuses those zealots of distorting the Gospel, ignoring the legacy of nineteenth-century evangelical activism, and failing to appreciate "the genius" of the First Amendment. They quote the Bible out of context while offering literalistic interpretations, in the process poisoning attempts at meaningful conversation and diminishing faith itself. As a political liberal and an evangelical Christian, Balmer doesn't find the two terms mutually exclusive. Yet the voices of his brand of quieter evangelicals are drowned in the din of the vocal Religious Right, for unlike the Pat Robertsons of the world, "we don't have radio or television programs, let alone entire media networks." Balmer insists that evangelicalism is a diverse movement--indeed, the most important social and religious movement in American history, "America's folk religion." In the measured tones befitting that diversity, he discusses abortion, homosexuality, school vouchers, and creationism. If he changes no minds, he still offers a welcome alternative to Religious Right railing. June Sawyers
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"(Randall Balmer's) analysis of the deceit and hypocrisy at the heart of the religious right is devastating." The Guardian "Balmer's prophetic, heartbroken new book (is) a short and thorough account of the current state of evangelical Christianity in the US." FT Magazine" --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (July 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465005195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465005192
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Maxwell Johnson VINE VOICE on November 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a progressive Catholic and self-avowed liberal, I was prepared to dislike this book. I anticipated shallow proof-texting of the sort found in nearly all books written by evangelicals--just proof-texting in a different direction. Instead, I found calm, reasoned discourse that systematically dismantled the myth of the modern theocracy sought by so many Christian conservatives today.

I share with another reviewer the suspicion that those who accuse Dr. Balmer of anger have not read his book. The text is anything but angry. It is, in fact, rather self-effacing. The author clearly sets out the limits of his own knowledge and does not claim for himself any particular "gifts of the Spirit" that sharpen his insights or validate his positions. He writes with gentleness and compassion about people who consistently behave dishonestly and who pervert the spiritual values to which they claim exclusive right yet one never senses that he is out to exact revenge on political or religious enemies. Though he deals with political issues from beginning to end, Dr. Balmer's book is more a cri de coeur than a polemic.

Dr. Balmer invites people to think. Alas, several of the reviews on this site amply demonstrate that many will not.
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Format: Hardcover
Randal Balmer writes as one who has a love/hate relationship with evangelicalism. He loves the passion for the gospel, and loves the history of the evangelical movement. However he is greatly troubled by the rise of the religious right, their abandonment of traditional evangelical values and their claim to speak for the Christian community. This book is a needed corrective.

Balmer first examines the nature of evangelicalism and its history, showing that it has not always been in bed with the republican party. He shows how evangelicalism shifted to the Republican Party during the Carter Administration, and tells tales from the inside about how the focus shifted from the attack on the evangelical subculture due to government tring to revoke the tax emempt status of Bob Jones University, to abortion, simply seeking to find an issue the movement leaders could coalesce around. He examines the retreat of Baptists from their traditional position (best stated by Roger Williams and John Leland) in favor of seperation of church and state to a community that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.

Balmer writes as an endangered species-an evangelical who is socially/politically liberal because he takes scripture seriouslly. He attacks the selective literalism of the religous right and calls us to take the call of scripture to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God seriously.

Advice-read with an awareness of where you are in the hermaneutic circle and this can be a quite useful book. It places Balmer in the company of Jim Wallis (God's Politics) as an important voice of the christian left.
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Format: Hardcover
Speaking as both an evangelical and a professor of American history, Randall Balmer offers an insightful and penetrating look at the underbelly of the Religious Right and how this group has become champions of their own socio-political agenda instead of messengers of the "Good News." Balmer provides an in depth and thoughtful historical analysis as to how the Religious Right came to dominate the evangelical wing of the Church. This committed Christian speaks with authority and conviction as one, who has traveled the country and witnessed firsthand the devastation this new group of evangelicals has wrought upon the faith.
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Format: Hardcover
In addition to his credentials as a professor of American religion at Barnard College, Columbia University, Randall Balmer writes as an insider who was born, raised, and educated within conservative evangelicalism. In addition to affirming his evangelical identity, he also declares himself a political liberal. Balmer has written elsewhere how and why he remains grateful for his Christian heritage despite significance ambivalence (Growing Pains; Learning to Love My Father's Faith, and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America), but in his most recent book his ambivalence turns to acerbic vilification.

Evangelicalism's marriage to conservative politics, Balmer says, has poisoned public discourse, distorted the Gospel so that it barely resembles the message of Jesus, betrayed its nineteenth-century forbears who were in the vanguard of progressive causes like abolition, and alienated a sizeable number of fellow-evangelicals who have tired of explaining to their friends that their Christian faith "does not mean that we take our marching orders from James Dobson or Karl Rove." After a brief introduction he devotes successive chapters to the religious right's litmus tests --abortion, homosexuality, first amendment disestablishment (including the "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore), school vouchers and public education, creationism, and the environment. Throughout his book Balmer argues that the right has often acted not out of moral principle but for political expedience. For example, school vouchers go overwhelmingly to religious schools and to wealthy people; would right wingers lobby for the issue so hard if vouchers were given only to families whose household income was below a certain threshold?
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