Blessed Assurance: A History of Evangelicalism in America

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1999 Hardcover N jacket New Hardcover with dust jacket, clean, tight, unmarked, (Fine with Fine Dust Jacket)() Written with insight and erudition, this is the first complete ... story of how so many religious movements arose in America and how they affect our politics and culture. Randall Balmer looks at the rise of evangelical groups from Methodists to the Disciples of Christ, charismatic leaders from Mary Baker Eddy to Jimmy Swaggart, and the meanings of beliefs from the All orders are shipped by kbooks every busines. Read more Show Less

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These two books together give an excellent overview of the past development, present objectives, and future possibilities of American evangelical Christianity. Balmer Ann Whitney Olin Professor of religion, Barnard traces the origins of evangelicalism from its beginnings in the Second Great Awakening to the present. He points out its broad popular appeal and sees its greatest strength as its willingness to use the latest communication techniques in each era. He also discusses current political and moral struggles. Looking toward the future, Webber attempts to reconcile evangelicalism with postmodern philosophy. Returning to the traditions of the very early church, the author attempts to show how such ancient paradigms as the "Christus Victor" concept as well as nonverbal communications through symbolism could revitalize the evangelical message in an age moving away from linear, verbal thinking. Both books are well written and readable scholarly works with some interesting insights into this important segment of religion in America. Recommended for academic and public libraries.--C. Robert Nixon, Lafayette, IN Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Six essays on evangelicalism from America's keenest observer of contemporary religion. Balmer (Grant Us Courage, 1995, etc.) reveals the heart of evangelicalism in the US, past and present. The book is somewhat more modest than the subtitle implies: The pieces here do not constitute anything as grand as a history of American evangelicalism. Readers will come away with textbook detail, but will nonetheless become deeply acquainted with the character and quirks of American evangelicals. Balmer begins by introducing the 18th-century Pietists, arguing that although evangelicalism has roots in the familiar Puritans, evangelical practices today draw at least as heavily on their Pietist ancestors. In "Diversity and Stability," Balmer explores the development and ramifications of religious disestablishment in the United States. "Visions of Rapture" examines evangelicals' embrace of Scripture's apocalyptic prophecies. Balmer suggests that evangelicals spill so much ink on prophecies because debating whether Saddam Hussein is the Antichrist can provide a night's entertainment at a sleepy dinner party, because imagining the last times allows "for flights of fancy about the shape of a new and perfect world," and because ruminating about the world's end inspires conversion. "A Pentecost of Politics" shows how evangelicals and America's public discourse have shaped each other. Balmer traces evangelicals' commitments to femininity and domesticity from the 19th century to the present before scrutinizing, in the final chapter, the religious right's attempts to reclaim the nation for God. The writing is even more delightful than the content: Those who aren't already fans of Balmer will wonder whyall academics can't write as well as this one. For anyone interested in contemporary faith, politics, and culture, and for anyone who wants to know how we got from Plymouth Rock to Pat Robertson.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807077108
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.84 (h) x 0.64 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2000

    More Cartoon than History

    After reading this book in one sitting, I am still unclear about its purpose. Readers expecting an historical overview will quickly become mired in long discussions about pre-colonial ethnic politics. Readers expecting more penetrating scholarship will be put off by such cartoonish gloss-overs as when Balmer writes the socially complex Salem Witch Trials off with a single word: 'misogyny' or when he repeatedly asserts that contemporary hymns inherit significant sexual imagery from the pietistic tradition but never presents an argument to support this assertion. The final two chapters strike me as thinly veiled assaults on Promise Keepers and the Christian Coalition. Justified or not, these attacks take the book out of the realm of history and into the realm of socio-political commentary, thus adding to my confusion about its ultimate purpose. Balmer does have some interesting things to say, particularly about how American individualism and anti-institutionalism affect American politics and religion. Despite its apparent lack of focus, I enjoyed reading the book and found some useful nuggets related to my current academic project. Students of history, sociology, or religion may find the end-notes a good starting point for more serious study. Those looking for an overview (as the sub-title suggests) should look elsewhere.

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