Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism: From the Scopes Trial to the Obama Divide  -     By: Kenneth J. Collins
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Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism: From the Scopes Trial to the Obama Divide

IVP Academic / 2012 / Paperback

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Product Description

Kenneth J. Collins' Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism details the history of the political and cultural fortunes of American evangelicalism from the late nineteenth century through today.

Evangelicals often seek for national influence, and often lament its loss. But has this pursuit of culture prominence provided the key to social transformation or a way to ideological isolation? This book narrates the history of the turbulent engagement of American evangelicalism since the 1920s. In the process, he argues, evangelicals on both sides of the liberal-conservatives debates have unintentionally reduced the richness of their public testimony to an almost entirely political rhetoric.

Yet Collins tells us that in light of the past--and often in spite of it-there is hope for the future. With political power in its proper place, evangelicals of all persuasions can be free to pursue together a calling to be fully engaged in culture and politics, even while testifying to a kingdom that is beyond all earthly powers.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 280
Vendor: IVP Academic
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0830839798
ISBN-13: 9780830839797
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

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Publisher's Description

Kenneth J. Collins tells the narrative history of the political and cultural fortunes of American evangelicalism from the late nineteenth century through the contemporary era. He traces the establishment of the evangelical enterprise in American culture and its influences on the political and social values of the American landscape throughout the twentieth century, as well as its fragmentation into competing ideological camps. Underlining how both sides of the liberal-conservative divide have diluted their message through political idioms, Collins suggests a way forward for evangelical political identity that avoids the pitfalls of fundamentalism and liberalism. Will American evangelicalism outlive its partisan history? As Kenneth Collins tells the story, there is reason to think so.

Author Bio

Kenneth J. Collins (Ph.D., Drew University) is professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has published several books including (Abingdon, 2007), (Baker, 2005) and (Abingdon, 2003).

Endorsements

As the evangelical voting block fractures and as Billy Graham's capacious shadow fades, a rather significant question looms: Whither American evangelicalism? Perhaps for too long we've relied on political power. Collins, drawing on an insightful exploration of the twentieth century and a deft analysis of the current horizon, points us to the power of common grace and ultimately to the power of the Spirit.
-Stephen J. Nichols, Ph.D.,
author of Jesus Made in America

Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism is a much-needed critical analysis of evangelical engagements with public policy by a Wesleyan scholar. I strongly recommend it to readers interested in learning about the pitfalls of both the religious right and left. While the book is bound to be controversial, especially among those who advocate evangelical social action, it contains much wisdom and a prophetic warning about how the search for power corrupts religion.
-Roger E. Olson,
professor of theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University

Collins writes with both the wide-ranging knowledge of a historian and the personal engagement of a Wesleyan statesman who has been actively involved in the evangelical movement throughout his career. It would be an understatement to say his provocative narrative of the movement as interpreted through the lens of its various bids for power is as refreshingly honest as it is illuminating. But more importantly, he provides sage guidance and direction for the movement as it seeks to navigate these perilous waters while remaining faithful to the gospel in the twenty-first century.
-Dr. Jerry Walls,
professor of philosophy, Houston Baptist University

Kenneth Collins has here issued an invitation to a scholarly forum on evangelical priorities, politics and power in culture and the public square. As at a truly good debate one is forced to think, to agree, to disagree and to admire the skill of the debaters, so it is here. As the fault lines of evangelicalism widen under the tectonic forces of power, postmodernity and personalities, Collins's reflections on teleology, the image of God and the power of the Spirit offer useful bridges to reopen communication between the estranged subcultures of contemporary evangelicalism.
-Dr. Peter A. Lillback,
president, Westminster Theological Seminary

A major Wesleyan scholar, Kenneth Collins, has provided a significant assessment of the promise and problems of modern evangelicalism. From intelligent design to power politics, he has set forth a valuable critique of fundamentalism, neo-evangelicalism, the religious right and the evangelical left. Protestants of different traditions will find Collins a perceptive analyst of the changing dynamics within evangelicalism.
-Thomas C. Oden,
emeritus Henry Anson Buttz professor of theology, Drew University

Kenneth Collins gives us a sweeping overview of the large forces that have led evangelicals, in recent decades, to become major actors in the bitter 'culture wars' that continue to bedevil American society. He makes a justly searing indictment of the principled assault by secularists on religious freedom, while giving sobering admonitions for evangelicals' often defective ways of resisting that assault.
-Meic Pearse,
professor of history, Houghton College

Editorial Reviews

"Kenneth Collins gives us a sweeping overview of the large forces that have led evangelicals, in recent decades, to become major actors in the bitter 'culture wars' that continue to bedevil American society. He makes a justly searing indictment of the principled assault by secularists on religious freedom, while giving sobering admonitions for evangelicals' often defective ways of resisting that assault."
"A major Wesleyan scholar, Kenneth Collins, has provided a significant assessment of the promise and problems of modern evangelicalism. From intelligent design to power politics, he has set forth a valuable critique of fundamentalism, neo-evangelicalism, the religious right and the evangelical left. Protestants of different traditions will find Collins a perceptive analyst of the changing dynamics within evangelicalism."
"Kenneth Collins has here issued an invitation to a scholarly forum on evangelical priorities, politics and power in culture and the public square. As at a truly good debate one is forced to think, to agree, to disagree and to admire the skill of the debaters, so it is here. As the fault lines of evangelicalism widen under the tectonic forces of power, postmodernity and personalities, Collins's reflections on teleology, the image of God and the power of the Spirit offer useful bridges to reopen communication between the estranged subcultures of contemporary evangelicalism."
"Collins writes with both the wide-ranging knowledge of a historian and the personal engagement of a Wesleyan statesman who has been actively involved in the evangelical movement throughout his career. It would be an understatement to say his provocative narrative of the movement as interpreted through the lens of its various bids for power is as refreshingly honest as it is illuminating. But more importantly, he provides sage guidance and direction for the movement as it seeks to navigate these perilous waters while remaining faithful to the gospel in the twenty-first century."
" Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism is a much-needed critical analysis of evangelical engagements with public policy by a Wesleyan scholar. I strongly recommend it to readers interested in learning about the pitfalls of both the religious right and left. While the book is bound to be controversial, especially among those who advocate evangelical social action, it contains much wisdom and a prophetic warning about how the search for power corrupts religion."
"As the evangelical voting block fractures and as Billy Graham's capacious shadow fades, a rather significant question looms: Whither American evangelicalism? Perhaps for too long we've relied on political power. Collins, drawing on an insightful exploration of the twentieth century and a deft analysis of the current horizon, points us to the power of common grace and ultimately to the power of the Spirit."

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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Must Read for 2012!
    September 10, 2012
    Dan Wells
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism is a great read whether you are a political liberal, moderate or conservative! It's message gets at the heart of contemporary American evangelicalism. Through surprisingly balanced and careful assessment (and that's hard to do whenever you talk religion and politics), Collins surveys the culture shaping events of religion in America and rightly identifies how evangelicals have influenced politics and social values. Furthermore, the last fifty years of American history also show us that both the religious right and the religious left have compromised the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of cultural acceptance and relevancy. Collins challenges evangelicals to realize that regardless of political affiliation, evangelicals must not allow themselves to be pushed off of their narrative in the midst of an increasingly secular culture. If evangelicals wish to work for the kingdom of God in America, they must embrace something greater than a distorted view of what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

    Collins' own words capture the heart of Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism as he states, "With political judgments in their proper place, with social visions not immediately equated with the kingdom of God in crude, idolatrous ways, evangelicals of all persuasions can be free to acknowledge their brothers and sisters of differing views around the Lord's Table, celebrating a God of holy love who transcends them all. Clearly, far more unites American evangelicals than what divides them. Such a gracious truth, however, can only be obscured when disparate political judgments or social visions displace the richness of the gospel, that is, the universal love of God manifested in Jesus Christ."

    As the United States faces yet another election in 2012, Collins' work is of the utmost importance! If you're looking for a great read, then I highly recommend this book! Whether you're a liberal or conservative, Christian or not, this book packs a powerful punch as our culture considers the current status of religion and politics in light of the upcoming election. You won't be disappointed!
  2. Wilmore, KY
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    An Important Book for Evangelicals
    September 10, 2012
    Robert
    Wilmore, KY
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Collins explores the strengths and weaknesses of the Evangelical Right and Left and concludes that political power cannot bring about cultural influence and change. Cultural influence cannot be achieved merely within the narrative of political ideology, but with the universal love of God displayed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, as Collins notes, the Right often mistake the free enterprise system with the freedom of the gospel while the Left often adhere to the idea that the Kingdom of God is manifested merely by political activism for social and economic justice. Consequently, Evangelicals from both sides of the political spectrum have alienated each other and have diminished the universal nature of the gospel, which is greater than any political narrative. Collins concludes that every Christian must live by the narrative of the gospel instead of certain political narratives if they want to truly change the hearts and minds of secular America.
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