It is apocalyptic and antimodern. Its political impulses are reactionary and backward. It is also has been active and growing. The author's history of it is neutral and descriptive of the movement on its own terms. If I had found myself anywhere in US history for the last years I would have found myself opposed to it. It has been remarkably consistent over the past years and in my opinion consistently a fo Fundamentalism or Evangelicalism is a movement that has been around for years.
It has been remarkably consistent over the past years and in my opinion consistently a force against democracy and ultimately anti-human. The history is very good but the subject is very bad.
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View all 3 comments. Dec 10, Mu-tien Chiou rated it really liked it Shelves: cultural-studies , practical-theology. The theme of this book emerges when apocalypticism is found to be the key for the ideological connection between evangelicalism and republicanism: all nations are going to concede their power in the End Times to a totalitarian political leader who is going to be the Antichrist, and governmental consolidation of power must be critically looked upon under this light.
The second part of this book is to explain why.
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The author says he trying to de-center the Scopes trial as not that substantial of a moment in the history of evangelicalism. White fundamentalist evangelicals never withdrew or disengaged from culture. As for African Americans, it was a different kind of discussion. For them, thinking through apocalyptic theology was happening in the context of a long black liberation tradition, so they put a lot of emphasis, for instance, on a verse in Psalms that talks about a great leader coming out of Abyssinia or Ethiopia. Feb 02, Mac rated it liked it. His work proposes two key points of departure from Marsden and the generally accepted picture of the rise of fundamentalism.
These two are a combination of four themes Sutton identifies on xiii-xv. First, Sutton emphasizes the role that World War One played in galvanizing and energizing early Premillennialists. The massive international conflict, he argues, provided a sense of urgency to the newly fashioned eschatology of writers like William Blackstone, and made premillennial theories much more plausible to thousands in Britain and North America.
The Great War destroyed much of the optimism of the progressive era and postmillennial eschatologies that had accompanied it. At the same time, the this-worldly emphasis of the Social Gospel Movement combined with liberal theories of biblical interpretation imported from Germany and transformed much of mainstream American Protestantism into a religion unrecognizable to many conservative Christians.
The instability in global politics and in liberal turn in Protestant theology led to fear and unease among many traditional Christians. Premillennialism provided both an explanation of these unsettling events and also a hope for a glorious future beyond them. Without the First World War, Premillennial theology may have been nothing more than an unusual but not particularly relevant idea in American religion. Moreover, debates about patriotism and commitment to the war effort gave rise to the earliest evangelical forays into political action.
Both groups hated and feared Marxist theory with its atheism and opposition to capitalism. Moreover, several significant business leaders were true believers in premillennialism and gave of their time, money, and influence to spread its message. Second, following Sandeen, Sutton rejects the idea that Fundamentalism ever was ever characterized by a period of retreat from public life and influence. Significantly, he diminishes the importance the Scopes Monkey Trial of Unlike Marsden, Sutton believes that the trial did little to alter the trajectory of the early evangelical movement and did not prompt a retreat from public political life for fundamentalism.
Though it captured national attention and dealt with an issue about which many fundamentalists cared deeply, the only significant legacy of the case for fundamentalists was the changing of their name. Antievolutionism was and is a typical characteristic of fundamentalists and evangelicals, but, Sutton argues, it is not the animating force of the movement that premillennialism is.
Rather, he sees a steady continuity between the late 19th century and the early s. His analysis of early culture wars in the s and 30s along with fundamentalist political activity during the New Deal era is especially persuasive on this point. The ideological forbearers of Jerry Falwell and James Dobson were actively engaged in the culture wars long before the s.
Evangelical opposition to Hollywood morality and liberal politics were firmly in place before the s. This basic continuity between early fundamentalists and post-war evangelicals, Sutton argues, means that the movement should be seen as one consistent and growing presence in American politics throughout the 20th century. At times, as in his discussion of the rise of influential female ministers, this material feels relevant to the overall thrust of the book; at other times, these excurses seem disconnected and out of place.
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It regularly touches on the way that African-Americans, women, and other minority groups reacted to fundamentalism as well as providing a wealth of data, quotations, and interesting anecdotes from within the evangelical community. However, the primary critique of his work lies in his claim that premillennialism is the defining characteristic of the evangelical movement. Though he presents a compelling case for his position, Sutton is honest enough to regularly list the exceptions and counterexamples to his argument. It is difficult to accept his claim that premillennialism is at the heart of fundamentalism when the topic is never even addressed in The Fundamentals despite great efforts on the publishers part to have it included.
Nor was premillennial eschatology at the heart of the revivalist preaching of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. Rather, what animated these massive, and perhaps most significant efforts was the concept of a personal spiritual conversion and an ensuing relationship with Jesus. Evangelicalism is so diverse and even chaotic a movement that one ought to be suspicious of any single element of its character being elevated to the position of primacy. His emphasis on apocalypticism, even if it is exaggerated, nevertheless brings to light an often overlooked or misunderstood aspect of the modern evangelical movement.
Such an important book to understand how the conservative Christian Evangelicals got us here. Feb 10, Alex Stroshine rated it really liked it Shelves: history. First off - the cover is amazing! I don't know if Matthew Avery Sutton or the publisher titled the book, but a better subtitle would have been "A History of Modern Premillennialism" as the movement typically associated with evangelicalism the midth century generation including Carl F.
Henry, Harold Ockenga, Billy Graham, et al.
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As another reviewer Tim points out, despite Sutton's attempts to present a more inclusive picture of fundamentalism than predecessors such as George Marsden and Joel Carpenter, Sutton's attempt at diversity is essentially limited to African-Americans and, representing women, Aimee Semple McPherson the subject of Sutton's earlier book.
Sutton attempts to demonstrate how premillennialism, a belief in Christ's imminent return, shaped how fundamentalists interpreted global events and engaged with culture; at times, these fundamentalists would strive to create the best possible society while also confidently asserting that Armageddon was just over the horizon. Sutton draws upon an impressive array of primary sources and I found that there were a few anecdotes that were interesting, such as Mussolini's fascination with how fundamentalists perceived him to be the Antichrist.
Unlike the typical notion that the Scopes trial was the pivotal event of the fundamentalist movement, Sutton instead sees the First World War as the primary event xiii. Like Brendan Pietsch, Sutton notes that fundamentalists, like modernists, used modern methods of classification p. On page 40 Sutton discusses Billy Sunday and his populist appeal and down-to-earth vernacular. Interestingly, Sutton shows that one prominent fundamentalist, Henry Stough, seemed to believe that the first human being was a "hermaphrodite," a perspective seemingly shared by current erudite scholars such as Iain Provan p.
Additionally, on pages Sutton notes that although in the first half of the 20th century, fundamentalists were generally silent on abortion, when they DID speak out they strongly opposed it. Although Sutton sees conservative Protestantism as inherently driven by premillennialism, I don't quite find the claim so convincing as he does, especially when he notes that The Fundamentals didn't tackle premillennialism nor did the National Association of Evangelicals since it was trying to cast as wide a net as possible.
I think I would still consider myself on the side of Marsden, Carpenter, et al. Jan 31, Stephen rated it really liked it. I'm no expert on evangelicalism, so I can't really comment on the value of this book for those with a greater knowledge of the movement, but I found this book consistently interesting and enlightening. Jan 30, Joan rated it really liked it. This is a book every Christian today would do well to read.
We sometimes think the prophecy we see splashed on television and written in contemporary books is something new and exciting. Evangelical Christians have been predicting the return of Jesus for decades, trying to match unfolding events with prophecy - and have been wrong every time.
Sutton does a good job of pointing that out. Reading this book will give one a sense of the long story, not just what is happening today in the world of Ch This is a book every Christian today would do well to read. Reading this book will give one a sense of the long story, not just what is happening today in the world of Christian prophecy. Sep 06, Steven Meyers rated it really liked it. Sutton's 'American Apocalypse' is a dispassionate overview of the evangelical doomsayers movement since its stirring shortly after the Civil War.
The book will not be offensive to either believers or nonbelievers. The same can't be said about this review. The book does not delve into the nuances of Revelation interpretations nor does it dwell very long on backgrounds of the movement's movers and shakers. Sutton focuses on how the fundamentalists' thinking evolved as different major event Mr. Sutton focuses on how the fundamentalists' thinking evolved as different major events unfolded. None of the evangelical leaders are questioned about their faith. He believes all the people covered in the book are authentic adherents.
One thing is certainly consistent throughout the hundred-fifty-plus years covered in this baby, the Chicken Littles ALL believed they were going to be alive to see good ole Jesus's second curtain call. I was raised Catholic but have been agnostic since the early s. What Mr.
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Sutton's work reaffirms to me is the ability of religious prognosticators to pull countless theories out of their backsides, claim to their followers its divine chocolate pudding, and not only do the believers eat it up, they come back for more helpings. I found the book fascinating because of the eagerness of people wanting to believe major events are true signs pointing to God's upcoming Smackdown Extraordinaire.
Nothing is viewed as a coincidence. The book focuses mostly on white male fundamentalism but does explain a little about the very different perspective as viewed by African-American evangelicals. The author correctly states that lack of success in the culture wars does not dampen their enthusiasm. They see everything through this lens. The moral stakes are always high. They have harsh reactions to modernism. For evangelists it's good versus evil. Compromise is a sin. They yearn for vindication. It's zealotry, people, and immune to rational thought. End-of-Days believers are never going away and their idea of a discussion is "my way or the highway, Jack.
Sutton's well-written work will help give you some context as to why many current Congressional Republicans are incapable of compromising with Democrats. For many, it's a holy war because of their supporters. I might as well go pack my bag for Satantown. Accessible, insightful, and informative, this history of the American Evangelical movement emphasizes the interest in the final days that has marked much of the development of this school of thought. Sutton draws out the early roots of the late nineteenth century, showing how a pressing concern about the imminent return of Christ marked the early days of this way of thinking.
Since this emphasis had not been one of the enduring themes of Christianity, those who shared it were drawn together in t Accessible, insightful, and informative, this history of the American Evangelical movement emphasizes the interest in the final days that has marked much of the development of this school of thought. Since this emphasis had not been one of the enduring themes of Christianity, those who shared it were drawn together in their understanding of the Bible as a roadmap for the future.
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Jude and The Madonna of th Street American Apocalypse relentlessly and impressively shows how evangelicals have interpreted almost every domestic or international crisis in relation to Christ's return and his judgment upon the wicked Sutton sees one of the most troubling aspects of evangelical influence in the spread of the apocalyptic outlook among Republican politicians with the rise of the Religious Right American Apocalypse clearly shows just how popular evangelical apocalypticism has been and, during the Cold War, how the combination of odd belief and political power could produce a sleepless night or two.
It is a brilliant book, sophisticated and compelling yet also lively and entertaining. With religion continuing to play a major role in American politics and culture, American Apocalypse is a must-read that will shed new light on the nation's past, present, and future. If you want to wrestle with evangelicals, read this book. In American Apocalypse , Sutton traces its improbably spread. It is a disquieting story filled with outrageous characters [and] jarring beliefs Sutton strews his chronicle with little pleasures If you want to understand why compromise has become a dirty word in the GOP today and how cultural politics is splitting the nation apart, American Apocalypse is an excellent place to start.
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Sutton has produced one of those rare books that is both academically rigorous and a very good read Sutton explains how radical evangelical Christianity became associated with free market economics, an association now so established in the U. He elucidates both how reliance on funding from wealthy business people has had a lot to do with this and how the theology led to it. The predominant view among pre-millennialists has always been that since the world is about to end there is no point in trying to improve it The defining episode in the political orientation of the movement was the election of F.
Roosevelt as president on a platform of extensive government intervention in the economy that seemed to most evangelical Christians far too similar to the atheistic communism of the USSR. Opposition to the New Deal became a rallying point of the movement, and indeed one of its most outspoken preachers came close to identifying FDR as the Anti-Christ. The reader comes away from this book marvelling at the ability of believers in prophecy to perceive the Anti-Christ in just about anything or anybody.
Since then this type of American Christianity has become inextricably linked with opposition to big government, high taxes and trade unionism. Though, as Sutton points out, such people have never seen any contradiction in demanding that the government intervene vigorously in the private lives of its citizens, along the moral lines of which they approve A central strength of the book is its careful analysis of racial differences and limitations within the radical evangelical movement. It was always dominated by white men and the racial divisions that became entrenched in the early part of the twentieth century are still present today.
In this way, he serves students of history and religion seeking to reflect upon the social and political contribution of evangelical faith. His key achievement is that he sticks to his brief, of showing that premillennialism has been central to modern Evangelicalism, and avoids narrating every aspect of the culture wars. Sutton strews his chronicle with little pleasures If you want to understand why compromise has become a dirty word in the GOP today and how cultural politics is splitting the nation apart, American Apocalypse is an excellent place to start.
In American Apocalypse, Sutton traces its improbably spread. It is a disquieting story filled with outrageous characters [and] jarring beliefs If you want to wrestle with evangelicals, read this book. It is a brilliant book, sophisticated and compelling yet also lively and entertaining. With religion continuing to play a major role in American politics and culture, American Apocalypse is a must-read that will shed new light on the nation's past, present, and future.
Sutton sees one of the most troubling aspects of evangelical influence in the spread of the apocalyptic outlook among Republican politicians with the rise of the Religious Right American Apocalypse clearly shows just how popular evangelical apocalypticism has been and, during the Cold War, how the combination of odd belief and political power could produce a sleepless night or two. American Apocalypse shows brilliantly how a terror of impending doom was translated into politics on issues ranging from support for Israel to anti-abortion activism. Orsi, author of Thank You, St.