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Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism: A Review

This paper is a review and evaluation of Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism by George M. Marsden. The book is, in fact, a detailed and highly readable history of modern American Protestant theology, an understanding of which is needed in order to provide an adequate context for these two related movements within the American Protestant tradition. The author is Professor of the History of Christianity at the Divinity School of Duke University.

This book is in effect a sequel to an earlier book by the author, Fundamentalism and American Culture (1980). It actually consists almost entirely of seven papers and lectures that Marsden addressed to specific topics, but he has here reshaped them and provided a framework that makes this a book that stands entirely on its own; unfortunately since the concerns of some of these originally independent chapters do overlap, the book does get somewhat repetitious in spots. Marsden intended to make the subject matter understandable and interesting to all readers, whether new to the study of this aspect of religion in America or other polished professionals like himself. In this readerÆs opinion, he succeeded admirably in achieving this goal.

Overall, the book is written with the almost chatty clarity and simplicity that can in fact be achieved only by an historian who has long struggled with and mastered all the details of his subject. The viewpoint throughout is historical, neutral, and compassionate. One could only guess whether MarsdenÆs own personal sympathies lie with the liberals or the conservatives in American Protestantism, for he treats all viewpoints covered in his discussion with respect and with graceful erudition. One could wish all historians were as fair to the people they discuss.

The book is organized into an Introduction and seven chapters. It seems useful to analyze these in sequence.

The Introduction is subtitled ôDefining Fundamentalism and Eva...

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Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism: A Review. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:00, December 06, 2021, from