GOD'S MAN FOR THE GILDED AGE: D.L. Moody & the Rise of Modern Mass Evangelism

Bruce J. Evensen, Author . Oxford $27.50 (232p) ISBN 978-0-19-516244-8

When evangelist Moody died the day after Christmas in 1899, he was reported to have reduced the population of hell by one million people through his revival efforts. Drawing on numerous contemporary newspaper reports of Moody's activities, journalist Evenson traces the influence of the popular press on Moody's rise to fame between 1873 and 1877. He points out that Moody was little-known when he began his revivals in Britain in 1873, but rose to prominence when the British press started to report on his success. Evenson chronicles Moody's rise to evangelistic fame and his use of the press by focusing on urban revivals in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The former shoe salesman used all the tools of that trade to sell the work of Christ to the multitudes, though he always humbly gave credit to the Holy Spirit for accomplishing the task of saving souls. As Evenson points out, Moody and the newspapers used each other to accomplish their own purposes: the press gained many readers with reports on Moody and his work, just as Moody gained free advertising (though he was often upset with the media's focus on him and not on his message). Evenson contends that Moody's canny abilities to manipulate the press for the good of evangelism paved the way for 20th-century successors like Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. Although Moody is a fascinating character and subject, Evenson's academic tone and his extensive use of footnotes sometimes make for dry reading. (Oct. 15)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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