The Evangelicals

EvangelicalsPerhaps not since Newsweek declared 1976 the Year of the Evangelical has so much been written and argued about evangelicals until this year.  The presidential victory of Donald Trump and his huge support by evangelicals has put the topic back in the spotlight.  So, when I heard that Francis Fitzgerald was writing The Evangelicals:  The Struggle to Shape America, I was looking forward to reading her book.  Coming in at over 700 pages (with notes and indexes) this is what you would expect from an author who has won the Pulitzer Prize.  The book is timely.  Stretching all the way from the Great Awakening to 2016, is narrates the shaping of America both theologically and politically.

The book is not about collegiate ministry, but by looking at the interaction of evangelicals and culture throughout American history, one can see how evangelical thought (or lack of it) shaped or reacted to collegiate life.  The 1960s comes readily to mind to most people, but the material dealing with the 1920s is also informative.  I enjoyed filling in the cracks of the 30s through the 50s, but frankly got tired of reliving the ups and downs of the Religious Right of the 80s and 90s (I lived through it).  However, for those too young to remember the high tide of the Moral Majority, it is a great recap of where many evangelicals were placing their stock, especially politically.  If a young Christian does not understand the “reclaim Christian America” mindset by many evangelicals, this book helps put it in perspective.

This book would be a great read to brush up on evangelical movements in the US, how evangelicals have dealt with a culture becoming more secular, and what lessons evangelicals could learn for the future.

 

 

The Evangelicals

evangelicalsThough Newsweek called 1976 the “year of the evangelicals” we could certainly say that 2016 brought that title back up again.  The high usage of the word was due to the election year and Trump’s special relationship with evangelicals, as well as the sharp war of words within the Christian community about why an evangelical should or should not vote for him.  But evangelicals are certainly much more diverse than in 1976. Millennials are not the Moral Majority, and writers struggle sometimes whether to use Evangelicals or just evangelicals.  I contend that spelling matters.

It seems fitting then that, The Evangelicals:  The Struggle to Shape America by Frances FitzGerald is coming out in 2017.  I have no idea where she is taking this book.  It may be totally a political foray.  It may include social mission.  It may ponder what is an evangelical.  Or it may be a dull diatribe.  I don’t know.  But given the saturation of the word in 2016, I think it would worth while to read what a well-known author who has won the Pulitzer Prize has to say.