The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age

The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age

by Randall J. Stephens, Karl W. Giberson
     
 

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American evangelicalism often appears as a politically monolithic, textbook red-state fundamentalism that elected George W. Bush, opposes gay marriage, abortion, and evolution, and promotes apathy about global warming. Prominent public figures hold forth on these topics, speaking with great authority for millions of followers. Authors Stephens and Giberson, with

Overview

American evangelicalism often appears as a politically monolithic, textbook red-state fundamentalism that elected George W. Bush, opposes gay marriage, abortion, and evolution, and promotes apathy about global warming. Prominent public figures hold forth on these topics, speaking with great authority for millions of followers. Authors Stephens and Giberson, with roots in the evangelical tradition, argue that this popular impression understates the diversity within evangelicalism—an often insular world where serious disagreements are invisible to secular and religiously liberal media consumers. Yet, in the face of this diversity, why do so many people follow leaders with dubious credentials when they have other options? Why do tens of millions of Americans prefer to get their science from Ken Ham, founder of the creationist Answers in Genesis, who has no scientific expertise, rather than from his fellow evangelical Francis Collins, current Director of the National Institutes of Health?

Exploring intellectual authority within evangelicalism, the authors reveal how America’s populist ideals, anti-intellectualism, and religious free market, along with the concept of anointing—being chosen by God to speak for him like the biblical prophets—established a conservative evangelical leadership isolated from the world of secular arts and sciences.

Today, charismatic and media-savvy creationists, historians, psychologists, and biblical exegetes continue to receive more funding and airtime than their more qualified counterparts. Though a growing minority of evangelicals engage with contemporary scholarship, the community’s authority structure still encourages the “anointed” to assume positions of leadership.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist

[Stephens and Giberson] rise triumphantly to the challenge of explaining the leaders and the culture of the religious Right without rancor or condescension.
— Ray Olson

Christian Century

The Anointed is one of the best and most important books on religion published this year. It is a well-written, well-argued study that penetrates to the heart of modern evangelical culture. Stephens and Giberson have done an excellent job of critiquing what Mark Noll has called the "scandal of the evangelical mind" (the scandal, wrote Noll, is "that there is not much of an evangelical mind") while empathetically explaining why so many evangelicals are smitten with dubious experts. Evangelicals who take the intellect seriously, as well as outsiders struggling to understand the evangelical sub-culture, will benefit from their hard work and keen insights.
— Matthew Avery Sutton

Wilson Quarterly

In The Anointed, Randall J. Stephens and Karl W. Giberson, professors at evangelical Eastern Nazarene College near Boston, draw a fascinating group portrait of today's most popular intellectual leaders among evangelicals and attempt to explain why so many of the faithful buy their arguments...One of the principal virtues of The Anointed is that it represents an effort to demonstrate that the evangelical community is not a monolith of the unthinking.
— Kevin M. Schultz

Inside Higher Ed

Neither an expose nor a screed, The Anointed is the work of educated evangelical Christians who reject the kitsch and anti-intellectualism that outsiders tend to equate with the faith itself...There are evangelicals who reject fundamentalism, find apocalyptic revenge fantasies distasteful, and don't see any reason why God wouldn't bless same-sex unions. The Anointed seems to be written for such readers—to explain the history and internal dynamics of the evangelical subculture, perhaps as a step towards changing it. As a report on the parallel culture of evangelical Christianity, the book is well-researched and intelligently composed.
— Scott McLemee

New York Times

The Anointed [is] a field guide to the evangelical experts you haven't heard of—but should...Why would anyone heed ersatz "experts" over trained authorities far more qualified to comment on the origins of life or the worldview of the founding fathers? Drawing on case studies of evangelical gurus, Stephens and Giberson argue that intellectual authority works differently in the "parallel culture" of evangelicalism. In this world of prophecy conferences and home-schooling curriculums, a dash of charisma, a media empire and a firm stance on the right side of the line between "us" and "them" matter more than a fancy degree...The Anointed condemns the current state of evangelical intellectual life, but Stephens and Giberson avoid monolithic stereotypes. They are careful to note that evangelicals disagree wildly among themselves about almost everything.
— Molly Worthen

Choice

With its coverage of wide-ranging figures and issues, the book reveals important facets of ways evangelicals maintain both their ideology and boundaries in what they perceive as a threatening culture. This insightful work is an important contribution to readers' understanding of the ways evangelicals maintain their self-identity and worldview.
— A. W. Klink

The Nation

In their new book, The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, Randall Stephens and Karl Giberson explain the nature of intellectual insularity of so many in this world, in which "the teachings of dubiously credentialed leaders are favored over the word of secular experts in the arts and sciences."...The authors describe "what amounts to a 'parallel culture,'" where people like alleged "historian" David Barton...proffer[s] phony-baloney history lessons that distort almost everything professional historians know to be true about America's founders.
— Eric Alterman

Owen Gingerich
Stephens and Giberson have produced a stunning and well-documented indictment of the evangelical right wing. Here is a 'must read' for anyone wanting an insight into one of the most powerful religious-political movements in modern American culture.
Ronald L. Numbers
Two talented writers join forces to introduce us to some of the most influential religious and cultural leaders in contemporary America--such 'experts' as Ken Ham, David Barton, James Dobson, and Hal Lindsey. I know of no better place to discover how the conservative half of America lives and thinks.
Michael Ruse
This is an important book on a pressing topic that should be read by everyone concerned with the place of religion in American life today.
Randall Balmer
The Anointed demonstrates how questionable 'experts' emerge and flourish within American evangelicalism. Stephens and Giberson function as knowledgeable guides into this intriguing--and troubling--'parallel universe.'
Booklist - Ray Olson
[Stephens and Giberson] rise triumphantly to the challenge of explaining the leaders and the culture of the religious Right without rancor or condescension.
Christian Century - Matthew Avery Sutton
The Anointed is one of the best and most important books on religion published this year. It is a well-written, well-argued study that penetrates to the heart of modern evangelical culture. Stephens and Giberson have done an excellent job of critiquing what Mark Noll has called the "scandal of the evangelical mind" (the scandal, wrote Noll, is "that there is not much of an evangelical mind") while empathetically explaining why so many evangelicals are smitten with dubious experts. Evangelicals who take the intellect seriously, as well as outsiders struggling to understand the evangelical sub-culture, will benefit from their hard work and keen insights.
Wilson Quarterly - Kevin M. Schultz
In The Anointed, Randall J. Stephens and Karl W. Giberson, professors at evangelical Eastern Nazarene College near Boston, draw a fascinating group portrait of today's most popular intellectual leaders among evangelicals and attempt to explain why so many of the faithful buy their arguments...One of the principal virtues of The Anointed is that it represents an effort to demonstrate that the evangelical community is not a monolith of the unthinking.
Inside Higher Ed - Scott McLemee
Neither an expose nor a screed, The Anointed is the work of educated evangelical Christians who reject the kitsch and anti-intellectualism that outsiders tend to equate with the faith itself...There are evangelicals who reject fundamentalism, find apocalyptic revenge fantasies distasteful, and don't see any reason why God wouldn't bless same-sex unions. The Anointed seems to be written for such readers--to explain the history and internal dynamics of the evangelical subculture, perhaps as a step towards changing it. As a report on the parallel culture of evangelical Christianity, the book is well-researched and intelligently composed.
New York Times - Molly Worthen
The Anointed [is] a field guide to the evangelical experts you haven't heard of--but should...Why would anyone heed ersatz "experts" over trained authorities far more qualified to comment on the origins of life or the worldview of the founding fathers? Drawing on case studies of evangelical gurus, Stephens and Giberson argue that intellectual authority works differently in the "parallel culture" of evangelicalism. In this world of prophecy conferences and home-schooling curriculums, a dash of charisma, a media empire and a firm stance on the right side of the line between "us" and "them" matter more than a fancy degree...The Anointed condemns the current state of evangelical intellectual life, but Stephens and Giberson avoid monolithic stereotypes. They are careful to note that evangelicals disagree wildly among themselves about almost everything.
Choice - A. W. Klink
With its coverage of wide-ranging figures and issues, the book reveals important facets of ways evangelicals maintain both their ideology and boundaries in what they perceive as a threatening culture. This insightful work is an important contribution to readers' understanding of the ways evangelicals maintain their self-identity and worldview.
The Nation - Eric Alterman
In their new book, The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, Randall Stephens and Karl Giberson explain the nature of intellectual insularity of so many in this world, in which "the teachings of dubiously credentialed leaders are favored over the word of secular experts in the arts and sciences."...The authors describe "what amounts to a 'parallel culture,'" where people like alleged "historian" David Barton...proffer[s] phony-baloney history lessons that distort almost everything professional historians know to be true about America's founders.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674048188
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
10/24/2011
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Randall Balmer
The Anointed demonstrates how questionable 'experts' emerge and flourish within American evangelicalism. Stephens and Giberson function as knowledgeable guides into this intriguing--and troubling--'parallel universe.'
Randall Balmer, author of The Making of Evangelicalism
Ronald L. Numbers
Two talented writers join forces to introduce us to some of the most influential religious and cultural leaders in contemporary America--such 'experts' as Ken Ham, David Barton, James Dobson, and Hal Lindsey. I know of no better place to discover how the conservative half of America lives and thinks.
Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists: From Creation Science to Intelligent Design
Owen Gingerich
Stephens and Giberson have produced a stunning and well-documented indictment of the evangelical right wing. Here is a 'must read' for anyone wanting an insight into one of the most powerful religious-political movements in modern American culture.
Owen Gingerich, author of God's Universe
Michael Ruse
This is an important book on a pressing topic that should be read by everyone concerned with the place of religion in American life today.
Michael Ruse, author of The Evolution-Creation Struggle

Meet the Author

Randall J. Stephens is Reader in History and American Studies at Northumbria University.

Karl W. Giberson is former professor of physics at Eastern Nazarene College and author of several books on science and religion.

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