Monday, September 30, 2013

History of American Evangelicalism at West Shore Evangelical Free Church--Week 3

(Get up to speed by reading about week one and week two of this course.)

This week we raced through another sixty years of evangelical history--from the end of the Civil War (1865) to Scopes Trial (1925).  I began by juxtaposing the very "otherworldly" aspects of late 19th-century evangelicalism with the very "worldly" developments in American cultural, intellectual, and religious life occurring at the same time.  As Dwight L. Moody was saving sinners with his "lifeboat," and evangelicals were "going deeper" with God in the Holiness movement, and dispensationalists were contemplating the timing of the rapture, America witnessed the emergence of Darwinism, the social gospel, and German higher criticism. 

Evangelicals eventually woke up to these changes, but it was probably too late to do anything about them.  The Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the early 20th century redefined the Protestant landscape in America.  Figures such as Harry Emerson Fosdick, Shailer Matthews, William Bell Riley, J. Gresham Machen, William Jennings Bryan, and Billy Sunday also figured prominently in the lecture.

I ended with the Scopes Trial and the collapse of evangelical cultural and religious authority in America.  Next week I hope to discuss the so-called reawakening of evangelicalism (borrowing heavily from the work of Joel Carpenter), the emergence of the neo-evangelical movement, and the birth of the Christian Right.

It's not too late to join us.  9:00 in room A143 at West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Mechanicsburg, PA.