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Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism Paperback – December 26, 1990
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From Library Journal
Marsden (American church history, Duke Univ.), who is considered an expert on fundamentalism, here looks at the interrelated movements of fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Part 1 gives a readable and informative overview of the rise of fundamentalism from 1870 on. It then examines evangelicalism as a separate phenomenon. Part 2 deals primarily with the views held by these groups on politics and science with a special analysis of why creation science is so important to them. This section also includes a close look at the career of J. Gresham Machen, a controversial fundamentalist scholar of the early 20th century. The author is especially good at showing the development of the conservative versus liberal controversy and the surprising appeal of modern fundamentalism for our technological age. Anyone who is interested in understanding this rapidly growing element in today's society will want to read this excellent analysis. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
- C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"In the history-of-fundamentalism business, George Marsden remains on top."
"The work will be useful as a supplementary textbook. The clarity, organization, and detail of Marsden's opening historical overview provide excellent introduction to an extraordinarily lively subject."
"There is perhaps no one better able to facilitate an understanding of American Protestant fundamentalism and evangelicalism than George Marsden. . . The volume provides a helpful introduction to and interpretation of the Protestant fundamentalist movement of the 20th century and the evangelicalism that grew out of that movement. . . Marsden is successful in communicating his research and interpretations in a style that is clear and readable, even for those with little background in the subject. Recommended for both academic and public libraries."
Religious Studies Review
"It can serve as a review for specialists in the field and as a wonderful introduction for those who are not. Professors can put it into the hands of undergraduates with the confidence that they will profit from it."
"Anyone who is interested in this rapidly growing element in today's society will want to read this excellent analysis. Recommended for academic and public libraries."
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Top customer reviews
For Marsden Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism are on a continuum with considerable overlap, whereas certain Fundamentalists would like that line drawn hard and fast. He starts off with a historical overview, covering E/F's roots and the conflict with "modernism" (1870-1930). He then explores how the the movement diverged into a more discernable E and F, though noting where they did converge.
He discusses politics and science, and ends with a chapter on J. Gresham Machen.
I enjoyed the book, and found it helpful in understanding the history of my own "stream" (a nice E/F mixture). I was a little surprised and disappointed with Marsden's treatment of the Young Earth Creationism issue. Usually Marsden is the epitome of cool disinterest - the neutral scholar without a dog in the fight. Though it was subtle, he seemed anxious to paint Creationists in a negative light, sometimes as "undeducated" other times as "looking for a fight." This was subtle, and I did find the 3 chapters on "science" to helpful and enlightening overall. Things are not as cut-and-dried as they may initially appear!
This is a good book, but of course, if you want the full treatment, you'll need to read his main book on Fundamentalism, as well as the other books Reforming Fundamentalism, and The Soul of the American University.
As movements which were born in opposition to certain forces (Biblical higher criticism, Darwinism and overall secularism) I think it would be more interesting to know how those forces established themselves in the churches and seminaries. That revolutionary infiltration is the real story, not the faithfulness of a remnant to their traditional beliefs. And I think it would be far more useful to have studied the so-called "conservative innovations" of evangelicalism/fundamentalism: dispensational millenialism, the Holiness movement and its child, Pentecostalism. Those have been the real vanguard ideas of American Protestantism for many decades now. In short, I think the book just left too many important aspects unexplored and questions unanswered. In addition, the confusion over the term "evangelical" remains. On the one hand, we're told that it was not in general use before the 1940s, but on the other hand we're told that evangelicalism was the dominant American religion in the early 1800s. Does modern evangelicalism really descend directly from 19th century revivalism, or is it a modern movement populated by the suburban refugees from liberal churches? I'm still not sure.