In This Review

The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement
The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement
By Douglas A. Sweeney
Baker Academic, 2005, 208 pp

Intended for students, this short and sympathetic -- although not uncritical -- history of American evangelical religion serves admirably as a brisk and useful introduction to a vital subject. Helpful annotated bibliographies at the end of each chapter provide intelligent suggestions for further reading on specific topics. Although the book does not continue its story much past 1970 or wrestle with the theological support for racial segregation that continued until very recently, it does an excellent job of presenting the major events and personalities of the leading strands of American evangelicalism. Sweeney should be especially commended for trying to overcome the common tendency among evangelical intellectuals to give undue weight to "dead white male Calvinists." Sweeney's history is more inclusive, giving greater weight to those minorities, women, Arminians, Holinesses, and Pentecostals who have often had a greater impact on religious life. In placing great emphasis on the links between domestic evangelicals and foreign missions, Sweeney also highlights an area of particular importance to American foreign policy. Overall, this theologically insightful book will serve secular, non-Christian, and nonevangelical intellectuals especially as an excellent, if sometimes provocative, guide to an important and often misunderstood dimension of American life.