Download After Cloven Tongues of Fire : Protestant Liberalism in by David A. Hollinger PDF

By David A. Hollinger

The function of liberalized, ecumenical Protestantism in American heritage has too usually been obscured via the extra flamboyant and orthodox models of the religion that oppose evolution, include slim conceptions of relatives values, and proceed to insist that the USA will be understood as a Christian state. during this ebook, one in all our preeminent students of yank highbrow historical past examines how liberal Protestant thinkers struggled to embody modernity, even on the fee of yielding a lot of the symbolic capital of Christianity to extra conservative, evangelical groups of faith.

If faith isn't really easily a personal difficulty, yet a possible foundation for public coverage and a countrywide tradition, does this suggest that non secular principles might be topic to an analogous form of powerful public debate quite often given to principles approximately race, gender, and the financial system? Or is there whatever designated approximately spiritual principles that invitations a suspension of severe dialogue? those essays, accrued the following for the 1st time, display that the severe dialogue of non secular rules has been crucial to the method through which Protestantism has been liberalized during the heritage of the USA, and make clear the complicated courting among faith and politics in modern American life.

After Cloven Tongues of Fire brings jointly in a single quantity David Hollinger's such a lot influential writings on ecumenical Protestantism. The ebook good points an informative basic advent in addition to concise introductions to every essay.

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It proved to be an anomaly in the long-­ term decline, visible in the 1920s and 1930s, of the relative place of mainstream churches in American society as whole. All religious organizations grew in the twenty years after World War II. The ecumenists failed to place their own prosperity in proper demographic perspective. A second condition fostering complacency was the Protestant establishment’s high standing in Washington, DC, and in the national media. This status followed, in large part, from the strong class position of the segment of society found in the mainstream churches.

We have lost the South for a generation,” President Lyndon Johnson is widely quoted as having said in 1964 when the Democratic Party aligned itself with the cause of civil rights for African Americans. The manner in which ecumenists risked their hold on American Protestantism is similar to the way the Democratic leadership imperiled its hold on the South, and with similar consequences. At issue in the control of American Protestantism was not only race—­the crucial issue for the Democrats—­but also imperialism, feminism, abortion, and sexuality, in addition to critical perspectives on supernaturalism.

I allude to Reinhold Niebuhr’s refusal to meet with Billy Graham at the time of Graham’s New York rally of 1957, but some of Niebuhr’s defenders, including his daughter, Elisabeth Sifton, have cautioned me that this story may be apocryphal. Yet Graham himself reports it in his own autobiography (Just as I Am [New York, 1997], 301), and the most thorough student of the Graham-­Niebuhr relationship accepts the story as true and even reports that Niebuhr refused “to grant an interview despite pressure from Union Seminary’s board of trustees” (Andrew Finstuen, “The Prophet and the Evangelist: The Public ‘Conversation’ of Reinhold Niebuhr and Billy Graham,” Books and Culture, August/September 2006, 8–­ 9, 37–­42).

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