Religion and Violence in Early American Methodism: Taking the Kingdom by Force

Religion and Violence in Early American Methodism: Taking the Kingdom by Force

by Jeffrey Williams
     
 

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Early American Methodists commonly described their religious lives as great wars with sin and claimed they wrestled with God and Satan who assaulted them in terrible ways. Carefully examining a range of sources, including sermons, letters, autobiographies, journals, and hymns, Jeffrey Williams explores this violent aspect of American religious life and thought.

Overview

Early American Methodists commonly described their religious lives as great wars with sin and claimed they wrestled with God and Satan who assaulted them in terrible ways. Carefully examining a range of sources, including sermons, letters, autobiographies, journals, and hymns, Jeffrey Williams explores this violent aspect of American religious life and thought. Williams exposes Methodism’s insistence that warfare was an inevitable part of Christian life and necessary for any person who sought God’s redemption. He reveals a complex relationship between religion and violence, showing how violent expression helped to provide context and meaning to Methodist thought and practice, even as Methodist religious life was shaped by both peaceful and violent social action.

Editorial Reviews

Choice

"[T]his well-researched and well-written... monograph [focuses] on the language of violence in American Methodist literature from the time of Methodist founders John and Charles Wesley to the Civil War. Williams's book reminds readers that Methodist religious experience was not always warm and sentimental but was originally one in which believers were at war within themselves and against sin in the world.... Highly recommended." —Choice

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Those interested in religion and violence, and in locating a 'Methodist' strain in American culture, should read this book." —Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 108, No. 3 Summer 2010

American Historical Review

"Williams sets out to remedy a perceived lack of attention to Methodist history. He provides an important contribution not only to Methodist history but to american religious and social history more broadly." —American Historical Review, June 2011

Russell E. Richey

"Engages a different literature on spirituality, namely its violent dimensions... extraordinarily well written, immensely important, and groundbreaking work." —Russell E. Richey, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

J. R. Stone

Though a goodly number of libraries will buy this book just for the title, which conjures up scenes of primly dressed church folks whacking one another with their King James Bibles (red letter edition), the actual focus of this well-researched and well-written... monograph is on the language of violence in American Methodist literature from the time of Methodist founders John and Charles Wesley to the Civil War. By 'violence,' Williams (Texas Christian Univ.) does not mean physical force or injury.... What he terms 'violence' should more properly be called 'spiritual warfare' or 'struggle,' the Methodists' very real fight against sin in which 'the body became engulfed in the bitter and destructive contest for salvation' (p. 14). For early Methodists, spiritual warfare manifested itself in a believer's life, producing physical responses within those who experienced not only the presence of God but also the spiritual attacks of Satan. Williams's book reminds readers that Methodist religious experience was not always warm and sentimental but was originally one in which believers were at war within themselves and against sin in the world. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. --ChoiceJ. R. Stone, California State University, Long Beach, December 2010

From the Publisher
"Engages a different literature on spirituality, namely its violent dimensions... extraordinarily well written, immensely important, and groundbreaking work." —Russell E. Richey, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

"Those interested in religion and violence, and in locating a 'Methodist' strain in American culture, should read this book." —Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. 108, No. 3 Summer 2010

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253354440
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
04/06/2010
Series:
Religion in North America Series
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Williams is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University.

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