American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism

Matthew Avery Sutton. Belknap, $35 (456p) ISBN 978-0-674-04836-2
Drawing deeply on letters, newspaper articles, and other archival materials, Sutton, a history professor at Washington State University, challenges the now-accepted accounts of Christian fundamentalism that attribute its rise to conflicts with evolution and modernist theories of biblical interpretation. Rather, he argues in this elegant, judicious, and thoughtful new history, apocalypticism—or the belief in an imminent end of the world—shaped the development of fundamentalism and sustained it through generations, from the late nineteenth-century to the present day. Thus, he contends, the anticipated end-of-the-world provided an interpretation of natural disasters, geopolitical changes, and war. "Fundamentalism, therefore, is best defined as radical apocalyptic evangelicalism," Sutton writes. He deftly weaves this idea through political events from the New Deal through the Cold War and into fundamentalist response to 9/11, and he illustrates the singular power of individuals ranging from Charles Fuller and Billy Sunday to Billy Graham and Hal Lindsey to influence fundamentalist Christians to political action. Sutton's engaging book belongs next to classic texts on the subject, among them Ernest Sandeen's The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1800–1930, and Joel Carpenter's Revive Us Again. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/24/2014
Release date: 12/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-674-97543-9
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