BLESSED ASSURANCE by Randall Balmer

BLESSED ASSURANCE

A History of Evangelicalism in America

KIRKUS REVIEW

Six essays on evangelicalism from America’s keenest observer of contemporary religion. Balmer (Grant Us Courage, 1995, etc.) reveals the heart of evangelicalism in the US, past and present. The book is somewhat more modest than the subtitle implies: The pieces here do not constitute anything as grand as a history of American evangelicalism. Readers will come away with textbook detail, but will nonetheless become deeply acquainted with the character and quirks of American evangelicals. Balmer begins by introducing the 18th-century Pietists, arguing that although evangelicalism has roots in the familiar Puritans, evangelical practices today draw at least as heavily on their Pietist ancestors. In —Diversity and Stability,— Balmer explores the development and ramifications of religious disestablishment in the United States. —Visions of Rapture— examines evangelicals— embrace of Scripture’s apocalyptic prophecies. Balmer suggests that evangelicals spill so much ink on prophecies because debating whether Saddam Hussein is the Antichrist can provide a night’s entertainment at a sleepy dinner party, because imagining the last times allows —for flights of fancy about the shape of a new and perfect world,— and because ruminating about the world’s end inspires conversion. —A Pentecost of Politics— shows how evangelicals and America’s public discourse have shaped each other. Balmer traces evangelicals— commitments to femininity and domesticity from the 19th century to the present before scrutinizing, in the final chapter, the religious right’s attempts to reclaim the nation for God. The writing is even more delightful than the content: Those who aren—t already fans of Balmer will wonder why all academics can—t write as well as this one. For anyone interested in contemporary faith, politics, and culture, and for anyone who wants to know how we got from Plymouth Rock to Pat Robertson.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8070-7710-0
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999




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