Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism

Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism

by Molly Worthen
     
 

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Evangelical Christianity is a paradox. Evangelicals are radically individualist, but devoted to community and family. They believe in the transformative power of a personal relationship with God, but are wary of religious enthusiasm. They are deeply skeptical of secular reason, but eager to find scientific proof that the Bible is true. In this groundbreaking… See more details below

Overview

Evangelical Christianity is a paradox. Evangelicals are radically individualist, but devoted to community and family. They believe in the transformative power of a personal relationship with God, but are wary of religious enthusiasm. They are deeply skeptical of secular reason, but eager to find scientific proof that the Bible is true. In this groundbreaking history of modern American evangelicalism, Molly Worthen argues that these contradictions are the products of a crisis of authority that lies at the heart of the faith. Evangelicals have never had a single authority to guide them through these dilemmas or settle the troublesome question of what the Bible actually means. Worthen chronicles the ideological warfare, institutional conflict, and clashes between modern gurus and maverick disciples that lurk behind the more familiar narrative of the rise of the Christian Right. The result is an ambitious intellectual history that weaves together stories from all corners of the evangelical world to explain the ideas and personalities-the scholarly ambitions and anti-intellectual impulses-that have made evangelicalism a cultural and political force. In Apostles of Reason, Worthen recasts American evangelicalism as a movement defined not by shared doctrines or politics, but by the problem of reconciling head knowledge and heart religion in an increasingly secular America. She shows that understanding the rise of the Christian Right in purely political terms, as most scholars have done, misses the heart of the story. The culture wars of the late twentieth century emerged not only from the struggle between religious conservatives and secular liberals, but also from the civil war within evangelicalism itself-a battle over how to uphold the commands of both faith and reason, and how ultimately to lead the nation back onto the path of righteousness.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Particularly impressive is Worthen's ability to weave the story of American evangelicalism back into the narrative of mainstream American history and, perhaps more importantly, to make it appear to matter. Anyone interested in recent American history will profit from reading Apostles of Reason."—Journal of Southern Religion

"Beautifully written and compellingly argued it should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand American evangelicalism or the broader religious tension between head and heart."—American Historical Review

"[A] remarkable and textured study." —Randall Balmer, The Christian Century

"Worthen's a beguiling portraitist." —Slate

"Pathbreaking and gracefully narrated." —The Nation

"Apostles of Reason turns intellectual history into page-turning drama, highlighting the flesh-and-blood personalities behind academic debates... the most exciting history of evangelical intellectual life to appear in decades." —Books & Culture

"Lively and story-filled... In locating Christian world view and biblical inerrancy at the heart of evangelicals' travails, and in bringing to light myriad little-known personalities, organizations, campaigns, and quarrels, Worthen has done scholars of twentieth-century history a great service." —Journal of American History

"This is a book to be reckoned with. In terms of its comprehensive grasp of the evangelical movement, its detailed research, and its serious approach to understanding the evangelical mind, Apostles of Reason stands nearly alone... Any serious-minded evangelical should read it." —R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Gospel Coalition

"Molly Worthen has written a truly important book. Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism is the kind of highly ambitious intellectual history that requires thorough familiarity with the sources, a keen eye for discerning intellectual undercurrents, a gift for telling a complicated, many faceted story, and, perhaps most importantly, an editorial aptitude for weaving it all together." —National Catholic Reporter

"[An] impressively wide-ranging account." —George M. Marsden, Commonweal

"Apostles of Reason brings a new level of sophistication, as well as sparkling prose, to the study of modern American evangelicals. A combination of empathetic understanding and critical acumen makes this an unusually humane, as well as unusually insightful, book." —Mark Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

"Molly Worthen's account of the evangelical imagination across the past seventy years is both sympathetic and critical. She captures the diversity of American evangelicals, their hopes and anxieties, and the nuances of their strategies for cultural influence." —Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

"Ambitious in its analytical breadth, at once incisive and playful in presentation, and utterly convincing, Molly Worthen's Apostles of Reason is first-rate in every sense. This is a path-breaking book about a quintessentially modern movement. Readers of all persuasions will welcome it." —Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt

"Molly Worthen's Apostles of Reason is an important contribution to the ongoing debate within evangelicalism about how to get along as a family of churches... Reading Worthen's account of evangelicalism is a breath of fresh air in many ways." —First Things

"This book's virtues are many. The prose alone-consistently clear and vigorous, and sparkling with memorable turns of phrase-is worth the price of admission... It is a singular accomplishment." —Christian Century

"Apostles of Reason represents a synthetic and interpretive triumph... It is difficult to overstate how witty her writing is, which is quite an accomplishment given how potentially dry a study of evangelical intellectualism could be. Moreover, Worthen grounds her sparkling prose in impeccable research." —David R. Swartz, Asbury University, The Mennonite Quarterly Review

"Worthen's telling of this narrative is gripping. It is difficult to overstate how witty her writing is, which is quite an acomplishment given how potentially dry a study of evangelical intellectualism could be. Moreover, Worthen grounds her sparkling prose in impeccable research." —The Mennonite Quarterly Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199334155
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
788,885
File size:
4 MB

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