Lost Soul Of American Protestantism

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Overview

In The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, D. G. Hart examines the historical origins of the idea that faith must be socially useful in order to be valuable. Through specific episodes in Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Reformed history, Hart presents a neglected form of Protestantism—confessionalism—as an alternative to prevailing religious theory. He explains that, unlike evangelical and mainline Protestants who emphasize faith's role in solving social and personal problems, confessional Protestants locate ...

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Overview

In The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, D. G. Hart examines the historical origins of the idea that faith must be socially useful in order to be valuable. Through specific episodes in Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Reformed history, Hart presents a neglected form of Protestantism—confessionalism—as an alternative to prevailing religious theory. He explains that, unlike evangelical and mainline Protestants who emphasize faith's role in solving social and personal problems, confessional Protestants locate Christianity's significance in the creeds, ministry, and rituals of the church.

Although critics have accused confessionalism of encouraging social apathy, Hart deftly argues that this form of Protestantism has much to contribute to current discussions on the role of religion in American public life, since confessionalism refuses to confuse the well-being of the nation with that of the church. The history of confessional Protestantism suggests that contrary to the legacy of revivalism, faith may be most vital and influential when less directly relevant to everyday problems, whether personal or social.

Clear and engaging, D. G. Hart's groundbreaking study is essential reading for everyone exploring the intersection of religion and daily life.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Church and State
Good historical writing calls our attention to something that allows us to ponder it. It may or may not offer a guide for change or summon us to action, but by merely allowing us to look afresh at something we think we know that which was familiar can become intriguing. Such is the service The Lost Soul of American Protestantism provides. In this volume D. G. Hart offers an illuminating new way of looking at the schismatic arena of American Protestantism.
Choice
This book has a provocative thesis that engages the question of the corpus Christianum in a new and engaging manner. Recommended.
Journal of Church and State
Good historical writing calls our attention to something that allows us to ponder it. It may or may not offer a guide for change or summon us to action, but by merely allowing us to look afresh at something we think we know that which was familiar can become intriguing. Such is the service The Lost Soul of American Protestantism provides. In this volume D. G. Hart offers an illuminating new way of looking at the schismatic arena of American Protestantism.
The Weekly Standard
Scholarly and important work . . . his [Hart's] warnings about the dangers of seeking to gain the world while losing one's soul should be welcomed by all who sense that something is fundamentally wrong in the way religion appears today on the American scene.
CHOICE
This book has a provocative thesis that engages the question of the corpus Christianum in a new and engaging manner. Recommended.
American Historical Review
We can thank Hart for opening up a stimulating discussion.
Theology Today
Deeply informed.
Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly
Students of church history and American religion can find much food for thought in this volume.
Lutheran Quarterly
Hart offers numerous historical illustrations. . . . Hart's examples provide an interesting and original mix of materials.
David Watt
D. G. Hart’s argument is original, important, and provocative. The book forces us to re-examine our assumptions concerning the fissures that define the history of American Protestantism. It points us toward a fundamental reassessment of Protestantism’s role in the formation of modern American culture.
Harry S. Stout
D. G. Hart's The Lost Soul of American Protestantism is the first book to flesh out the theology of 'Confessional Protestantism,' a concept formerly discussed primarily, if not exclusively, within the ethnic and political confines of 'ethno-cultural' political history. In this remarkable volume readers will encounter a third way in Protestantism that is neither 'evangelical' nor 'liberal,' but a tradition grounded in liturgy and historic creeds and confessions. This is a thoroughly useful, entirely readable, and historically notable volume of interest to scholars and informed lay readers alike. It is a splendid example of innovative argument and has a few surprising conclusions.
Journal of Church & State
Good historical writing calls our attention to something that allows us to ponder it. It may or may not offer a guide for change or summon us to action, but by merely allowing us to look afresh at something we think we know that which was familiar can become intriguing. Such is the service The Lost Soul of American Protestantism provides. In this volume D. G. Hart offers an illuminating new way of looking at the schismatic arena of American Protestantism.
Mark A. Noll
D. G. Hart wants participants in, and observers of, American religion to realize that dividing things up between 'liberals' and 'conservatives' is simply too simple. Hart asserts that there is a category of religious believers—he calls them 'confessionalists'—who differ fundamentally from both liberals and conservatives. Who these confessionalists are, and why they are important for all who want to resist the trivialization of religion, is the well-told story of this important book.
Bruce Kuklick
For those interested in the history of American Protestantism, this is D. G. Hart at his best—intelligent, cranky, and iconoclastic. He writes from the perspective of Old School Calvinism and as an opponent of many Christian historians in the academy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742507692
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Series: American Intellectual Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 863,075
  • Product dimensions: 0.53 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

D. G. Hart is professor of church history and academic dean at Westminster Seminary in California.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Preface xi
Introduction xv
Chapter 1 The American Way of Faith 1
Chapter 2 Confessional Protestantism 29
Chapter 3 Defining Conservatism Down 57
Chapter 4 The Intolerance of Presbyterian Creeds 85
Chapter 5 The Sectarianism of Reformed Polity 113
Chapter 6 The Irrelevance of Lutheran Liturgy 141
Conclusion: Confessional Protestantism and the Making of Hyphenated Americans 169
Index 187
About the Author 197
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