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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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253354440
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 04/22/2010
Series: Religion in North America
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Foreword by Catherine L. Albanese and Stephen J. Stein
Acknowledgments

Introduction
1. Fighting the Good Fight
2. Contesting the Good Fight: Warfare and the American Revolution
3. The Power to "Kill and Make Alive": The Spiritual Battle and the Body in Post-Revolutionary America
4. Beating Their Plowshares into Swords: Methodists and Violence in Antebellum America
5. Methodist Respectability and the Decline of the Good Fight for Salvation
6. The Christian's Warfare and Social Violence

Notes
Bibliography
Index

What People are Saying About This

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. —Choice

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. —Choice

Candler School of Theology, Emory University - Russell E. Richey

Engages a different literature on spirituality, namely its violent dimensions . . . extraordinarily well written, immensely important, and groundbreaking work.

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