A glimpse at fundamentalism in America.
Former Sojourners editor and first-time author Grainger was raised in the Plymouth Brethren, a small but historically influential Christian denomination. He uses the backdrop of his experiences to color a useful discussion of Christian fundamentalism in the United States, exploring its social and theological roots. The author begins with an introduction to the movement, which took hold in the 19th century largely as a response to biblical higher criticism, which treats the Bible as a text written by humans in a particular time period and for specific motives. Fundamentalism’s emphasis on the Second Coming of Christ is explored in depth, and mirrored in a story of Grainger’s grandfather, who wrongly predicted that the end of the world would occur on September 11, 1988. Grainger then moves on to the central role of the Bible in American fundamentalism, and discusses the concept of being “saved,” how fundamentalists view morality and the increase in interest among fundamentalists in Judaism and Israel. Unlike such separatists as the Amish, notes the author, most fundamentalists are content to work side by side with others and use the tools of modern culture to spread their message The author concludes that Christian fundamentalists “have built a world within a world, a microcosm of American society.” His personal recollections of fundamentalist life give credence to that claim.
Brief but insightful exploration of a people who may not see themselves as of this world, but who are certainly in it in increasing numbers.