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.
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Customer Reviews for Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism: From the Scopes Trial to the Obama Divide
Review 1 for Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism: From the Scopes Trial to the Obama Divide
A Must Read for 2012!
Date:September 10, 2012
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!
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Review 2 for Power, Politics and the Fragmentation of Evangelicalism: From the Scopes Trial to the Obama Divide
An Important Book for Evangelicals
Date:September 10, 2012
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.