Redeeming America

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In the decades before the Civil War, evangelical Protestants struggled for the mind and soul of America. Their impact on American life had immediate as well as far-reaching consequences, and is the subject of Curtis Johnson's concise and discerning account of a major force in the nation's history. The religious combatants described by Mr. Johnson not only sought to rescue America from Catholics and unbelievers, they battled one another over the meaning, practice, and social implications of their common faith. While prosperous evangelicals often tried to impose their religious understanding on the social and political order, common whites resented this elite meddling in their lives, and black Americans achieved a measure of autonomy by forging a liberating faith. Evangelical battles over biblical interpretation, the Second Birth, personal and national righteousness, and the Second Coming released forces that reverberated throughout antebellum culture. White evangelicals disagreed over the importance of education, the role of emotion, the possibility of personal perfection, and political philosophy. But when large numbers of black and white evangelicals agreed that God could not bless the nation until slavery was abolished, they abandoned their slaveholding co-religionists, and America moved toward Civil War. American Ways Series.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Southern History
Accessible and innovative...This major contribution will find wide acceptance.
— John Daly
The Journal of Southern History
Accessible and innovative...This major contribution will find wide acceptance.
— John Daly
The Journal of Southern History - John Daly
Accessible and innovative...This major contribution will find wide acceptance.
The Historian
Redeeming America offers a deft guide through the subdivision of evangelical Protestantism in the antebellum U. S.
Accessible and innovative...This major contribution will find wide acceptance.
Journal of Southern History
Library Journal
In the absence of a state-supported religion, the years 1820-60 saw tremendous expansion and influence of the Evangelicals in the United States. Johnson ( Islands of Holiness , Cornell Univ. Pr., 1989) discusses the many ways in which these Evangelical sects attempted to shape American society. Generally drawn along socioeconomic lines, there were three major groups: Formalists (Congregationalists, Presbyterians), Antiformalists (Methodists, Baptists), and the African American groupings. Johnson discusses in serviceable but tedious prose how these groups varied in their beliefs on biblical authority, rebirth, the Second Coming, and Perfectionism. Slavery also divided Southern from Northern Evangelicals. By the time of the Civil War, changes in American society had altered the character and composition of the Evangelicals, and they were never again as powerful. For collections specializing in American religious history.-- Deborah Owen, Fairview Heights P.L., Ill.
Explores the impact of evangelical Protestantism on antebellum American culture, synthesizing much of the scholarship on this topic that has been produced over several decades. The study examines five theological ideas that evangelicals upheld with great seriousness and discusses how these ideas were interpreted by middle- to upper-class whites, lower- to middle-class whites, and African Americans. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566630320
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Curtis D. Johnson teaches history at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He has also written Islands of Holiness.

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