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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
I really enjoyed the first part of the book (history). In the second part of the book, there were essays written about two main subjects; politics and science. These essays tried to explain how fundamentalism and evangelicalism reacted to and changed these two areas. I especially enjoyed the essays pertaining to science because the issues that they faced in history are some of the same issues that Christians face today. The essays on politics were hard for me to follow, maybe because of my ignorance of political history. The last chapter was an essay trying to understand J. Gresham Machen. This essay was very insightful and very interesting.
I read this book for a class on `History of Fundamentalism', and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It took me five days to read the book and I spent almost twelve hours reading it. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in understanding the roots of `Conservative Christianity' and I would also recommend it as a `fun' read (except for chapters 3 and 4, they were not fun).
Started with a directed study of creation and evolution from a Christian viewpoint, see my webpage at fastucson.net/~rmwillia for more detail. After a few months of watching and participating in online debates i became interesting in what i saw to be a common element in the young earth creationist people. That was an elevation of the CED issue to one of a salvation issue. Frankly i was surprised and a little dismayed at this theological development. So i asked for help on trying to get a handle on fundamentalist theology. This was one of perhaps 5 books recommended by lots of people.
The book is unusual in the mix of tone and levels of sophistication between the chapters. It stems from the fact that this small volume is primarily a collection of essays from the author's much larger multiple volume work(_fundamentalism and the american culture) on the same topic. As a collection of essays, not particularly held together by design they are certainly representative of his thought, and probably the best of his work on the topic. But the chapters are not sequential or connected in a discernible way, other than the general chronological. In this case however this is not a criticism, the book flows fine anyhow. But what it does do is to make it possible to read chapters that you are primarily interested in, out-of-order, a nice feature.
What is the history of fundamentalism in america and why should i care? It's a big movement 25-45% of the population by most measurements. But more importantly it represents a criticism of modernism that is hard to miss. With abortion, evolution in the public schools, gay rights etc being just tip of a huge iceberg where the movement hits the political sphere, inescapable for any one with current issues interest.
The book is well written, the chapters are concise and gently lead you to see what the author sees in the movement. You know from the beginning that the author is sympathetic with the fundamentalist's but at the same time you don't feel that his religion is interfering with his studies. You can see places he is saddened by events, disappointed at roads not taken but at the same time he comes across as a feeling competent historian. So much so was i impressed at his abilities as a historian that i ordered his larger work despite it's 1980 copyright date.
The real strength to me is the 5th chapter on the "evangelical love affair with enlightment science". He presents two men, bb. warfield and abraham kuyer as evangelicals with very different ideas of the relationship of science to religion. Warfield's position is classic science yields truth in its researches of the real world and ought to be seen as the study of the general revelation in nature. Kuyer is far more sophisticated and sees Kuhian themes 75 years before, in his analysis that different types of people have very different presuppositions and these necessarily led to a different science.
This insight as well as an extended discussion about the origin of the science and religion at war metaphor is worth the time to read this book. If you have any interest in the field this is a good introduction plus a reference to point further down the road of study. Oftentimes scholarly apparatus detracts from the overall readability of books like this one, but in his case your eyes and mind are often drawn to the footnotes, i several times yellowed book titles which he interested me in reading to learn more about his arguments. This is a great asset and indicative of a very well argued book.
thanks for listening.
We may recognize that we are divided, but many Americans don't actually understand just how deeply divided, as a nation, we really are. Nor do we understand the underlying issues that divide us, the issues which are finally at the core of many of our debates.
This book provides one way of understanding these important issues, from the inside out.
Marsden argues that the political and social conflicts we all see today were born out of certain features of the American religious life. He proves his case admirably, and succeeds in providing his readers with a deeper understanding of contemporary conflicts than they will ever receive from contemporary newspapers and magazines, or even from their high-school and college American history classes. All of these other sources tend to ignore religion as a factor in political and social life. For Marsden, it is central.
Marsden is able to show that our conflicts have their roots in the historical encounter of American Christians with the emerging "modern world." When American Christianity began to encounter "Modernity" -in all its many forms: developments in science, politics, academic scholarship, industry, economics, and city life- its own internal conflicts formed the patterns for the larger social and cultural divisions which are now so familiar to us all all. Because he brings alive the religious dimension of American history, not just as a conflict of the religious with the secular, but of the relgious with the religious, his treatment has the feel of something which makes the incomprehensible finally comprehensible. His scheme for understanding our history and our conflicts comes as nothing short of a revelation.
This book documents, issue by issue,movement by movement, and personality by pesonality, what happened, where, and when. It covers developments in the Christian religion in America from the end of the 19th century to the latter half of the 20th century, clearly illuminating how, in America, Christianity became divided between "mainline" and "evangelical" branches, in the process, dividing American society as a whole.
Marsden writes elegantly and clearly, and he has the special ability to make history come to life as an exciting story. He writes for the layperson, so any college-educated and mildly curious reader can profit from this book. A respected Evangelical Christian himself, Marsden is also a historian of superior academic credentials. _Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism_ thus acheives something special because of who its author is: it is a book both sympathetic to its subject, and a piece of very responsible and balanced scholarship.
I recommend it most highly.