Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism


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by Molly Worthen. Oxford University Press, 2013.

One way to understand American religious experience is through the frame of authority. Who has it? Where does it come from? How is it changing? Molly Worthen is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You will also occasionally find her writing in the New York Times, Slate, and Christianity Today. In this book, she examines the American evangelical experience. She is interested in the tension between desire and practice as it relates to authority. For example, many evangelicals are suspicious of science yet seek proof of Scripture as history. Or, many evangelicals affirm individual responsibility and autonomy but are also deeply interested in supporting strong Christian communities. How do evangelicals reconcile human control and influence with obedience to almighty God? With academic rigor, the book explores evangelicals’ complex relationship with secular reason and personal imagination. There are nicely structured anecdotes and stories. They will keep your interest throughout the 376 page volume. A pastor preparing a class on current evangelical challenges can read this book and be well prepared.

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