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Publick Religion: Adams v. Jefferson

The civic catechisms of our day still celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s experiment in religious liberty. To end a millennium of repressive religious establishments, we are taught, Jefferson sought liberty in the twin formulas of privatizing religion and secularizing politics. Religion must be “a . . . . Continue Reading »

Beyond the Mainline Tale

The Churching of America, 1776–1990: Winners and Losers In Our Religious Economy by roger finke and rodney stark rutgers university press, 325 pages, $22.95 In mainline theological schools, divinity students are told a familiar tale about the church in modernity that goes something like this: The . . . . Continue Reading »

Jonathan Edwards & the Public Square

One Holy and Happy Society: The Public Theology of Jonathan Edwards by gerald r. mcdermott pennsylvania state university press, 203 pages, $29.95 Gerald McDermott, who teaches religion at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, has written a persuasive revisionist account of Jonathan Edwards . . . . Continue Reading »

The Lutheran Difference

To the extent that Lutherans are noticed at all by non-Lutherans in America, impressions can be wildly contradictory. From one perspective, they can look like mildly exotic ethnics—sort of like the Mennonites, only more numerous. Thus it is possible for interested outsiders to smile . . . . Continue Reading »

Evangelism’s Premier Prophet

A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story by William Martin William Morrow, 735 pages, $25 The title of this fascinating biography of Billy Graham sets the theme and tone of the entire book: Graham is not a charlatan, a demagogue, or marketeer, but ultimately an honest proponent and worldwide . . . . Continue Reading »

A Communitarian Lament

The Good Societyby Robert N. Bellah, Richard Madsen,William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Stephen M. TiptonKnopf, 333 pages, $25 The Good Society is a sequel to these authors’ celebrated book, Habits of the Heart. Habits was a cultural event—an “academic” book that became . . . . Continue Reading »

A Protestant Shtetl

Just east of Chattanooga, four miles north of the Georgia state line and six miles up the road from where the Andrews raiders abandoned The General following their famous Civil War railroad hijacking, lies the village of Collegedale. Nestled in a valley alongside the Appalachian ridge known as White . . . . Continue Reading »

Countercultural Christians

Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalismby George M. Marsden Eerdmans, 206 pages, $12.95 Evangelicalism and fundamentalism continue to represent a vital and flourishing sector of American religion, one often at war with the American cultural elite and latterly much engaged in politics. For . . . . Continue Reading »

God and Man at Tuscaloosa

A friend of mine, more radical and pessimistic than I, claims that it is illegal to be a Christian in the United States today. Though I find that assessment overstated, not to say hysterical, it can hardly be doubted that public expressions of Christianity have, in the last several decades, been . . . . Continue Reading »

Evangelicals and Politics

The Scattered Voice: Christians at Odds in the Public Square by James W. Skillen Zondervan, 225 pages In the minds of many people, American evangelicalism is closely identified with right-wing politics. In reality, the political beliefs of American evangelicals are far more varied than is evident . . . . Continue Reading »

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