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Surprising Work of God, The: Harold John Ockenga, Billy Graham, and the Rebirth of Evangelicalism - eBook
Baker Academic / 2008 / ePub
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There is burgeoning interest in the story of mid-twentieth-century evangelicalism, as evidenced by an increasing number of significant studies of that era in church history. The Surprising Work of God builds on these studies and tells the story of how America's mid-twentieth century spiritual awakening became a worldwide Christian movement. This seminal study brings a unique perspective to the history, personalities, and institutions of that period and offers an intimate look at evangelicalism through the window of the life, ministry, and writings of Harold John Ockenga and his long friendship with Billy Graham. Ockenga was pastor of the historic Park Street Congregational Church in Boston and cofounder of Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today. As such, he was a central figure in the birth and development of American neo-evangelicalism. The Surprising Work of God is sure to become essential reading for courses in American church history.
There is growing interest in the story of mid-twentieth-century evangelicalism. One of the central leaders of that era was Harold John Ockenga. He was pastor of the historic Park Street Congregational Church in Boston and cofounder of Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today. The Surprising Work of God examines the birth and development of modern American evangelicalism--its history, personalities, and institutions. The history of that time is seen through the window of the life, ministry, and writings of Ockenga and his long friendship with Billy Graham. This lively, engaging story will be of value to anyone with an interest in the American church of the last century.
Garth M. Rosell (PhD, University of Minnesota) is professor of church history at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1978, and former director of the Ockenga Institute. His books include The Memoirs of Charles G. Finney (coedited with R. A. G. Dupuis) and Commending the Faith: The Preaching of D. L. Moody.
"This is insider's history at its best. Not only is Garth Rosell a truly first-rate historian, but he has also lived through many of the events he recounts. His front-row seat within the theater of post-war evangelicalism combined with careful work in little-known manuscript materials has yielded an accurate, vivid account of the evangelical movement's twentieth-century revival. This book is real treasure---must reading for all who care about American religion." -Douglas A. Sweeney, associate professor of church history and the history of Christian thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"Garth Rosell has made one of the most significant contributions to the history of American twentieth-century evangelicalism. Not only does he bring to this project his gifts as a noted historian but he also brings the text to life with insights gleaned from his personal friendships and working relationships with Harold John Ockenga and Billy Graham. This is must reading for anyone who wants to know more about the phenomenon of contemporary American evangelicalism. And it is a fascinating and insightful read for those of us who call ourselves evangelicals and want to know more about the individuals and events that have shaped who we are during the past half century." -John A. Huffman, pastor, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, California; chairman of the board, Christianity Today International
"The story of post-World War II evangelicalism, and of Harold Ockenga's role in its reconstruction, is here told with an insider's understanding, a historian's eye for detail, and diligence in the use of original sources. Rosell has plowed fresh ground and has given us ways of looking at all of these events that are fresh, authentic, and helpful." -David F. Wells, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"As I neared the end of this book, I contacted our seminary students and told them that this is a must read. Much more than a history of the evangelical movement in the mid-twentieth century, Garth Rosell's The Surprising Work of God is a compelling charge for today's Christian leaders. Presented as the story of two friends, Harold John Ockenga and Billy Graham, this carefully detailed narrative (don't miss the footnotes!) tells of what happens when a rising generation commits to believe with biblical conviction and to move forward with courage. As I turned each page, I began to believe anew in how the sovereign work of God will once more surprise us as we, the people of God, set our agenda on building bridges, not walls, for his glory. It was a new day for Ockenga, Graham, and their band of brothers as they believed that nothing would be impossible through God. This book will leave you in that same realm of expectations for our generation." -Barry Corey, president, Biola University
"The American evangelical movement today owes its strong cultural presence and evangelistic vigor to a generation of men and women who are in danger of being forgotten. Garth Rosell offers us a family album filled with both panoramic views of a growing movement and intimate snapshots of those who rode the crest of the wave of revival that was about to break on mid-century America. It's an exciting story, and as the son of one of those early revivalists, Rosell is just the person to tell it." -Jennifer Trafton, managing editor, Christian History & Biography
"In this thoroughly researched book, Garth Rosell has put flesh on the dry bones of history. His deep immersion in the rich records left by Harold John Ockenga brings to life the critical developments that forged the modern evangelical movement. The result is a most valuable book." -Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
"Evangelicalism is said to be in the midst of an identity crisis. If so, it would be hard to imagine a more inspiring or compelling remedy than that offered by Garth M. Rosell in The Surprising Work of God. Rosell offers a fresh appraisal of the historical context, as well as the driving convictions and passions, that fostered the rebirth of evangelicalism in the mid-twentieth century under the visionary leadership of Harold John Ockenga, Billy Graham, and other likeminded, gifted individuals. Well-chosen quotations from the writings, speeches, and personal correspondence of Ockenga, Graham, and others reflect Rosell's extensive research and engage the reader with their brilliance, spiritual insight, and enduring relevance. Rosell's convincing admiration for his subjects is balanced, however, by many salutary reminders of how the heroes of his story, like their modern successors, struggled to live up to their convictions. Indeed, if modern evangelicalism is to resolve its identity crisis, it needs to recapture the vibrant and holistic faith of its founding fathers and, wherever possible, go beyond them not by undermining their vision of civility, social transformation, and cultural engagement but by attempting more faithfully to fulfill it."--Gordon P. Hugenberger, senior minister, Park Street Church, Boston; adjunct professor of Old Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
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