The American Evangelical Story surveys the role American evangelicalism has had in the shaping of global evangelical history.
Author Douglas Sweeney begins with a brief outline of the key features that define evangelicals and then explores the roots of the movement in English Pietism and the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century. He goes on to consider the importance of missions in the development of evangelicalism and the continuing emphasis placed on evangelism. Sweeney next examines the different subgroups of American evangelicals and the current challenges faced by the movement, concluding with reflections on the future of evangelicalism.
Combining a narrative style with historical detail and insight, this accessible, illustrated book will appeal to readers interested in the history of the movement, as well as students of church history.
Evangelical history can seem complicated, but in this book, clarity, precision, and solid spiritual lessons are the order of the day. For care in defining who evangelicals are and have been, for reliability from using the best available scholarship, for awareness of world trends and political influence, and most of all for concentration on the Christian meaning of evangelical history, this is a very fine book.
—Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
This is a great resource, especially for people who want something short and easy to read yet detailed enough to apprise them of what evangelicalism is about. Unlike some books that read like dry compilations of unending historical facts, this one is engaging from start to finish. It is also inspiring. Perhaps the best thing about it is Sweeney’s attitude—he is appreciative of the movement’s famed leaders yet diligent to acknowledge that others, such as Pentecostals, charismatics, women, and blacks, have also made significant contributions that should be joyfully recognized as basic to a true telling of the story.
—Sarah Sumner, dean, A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary
Here is a superb overview of American evangelicalism presented with vigor, insight, and sympathy. This is a fine introduction written by one of our best historians.
—Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School
The American Evangelical Story is a fascinating and readable introduction to the history and theology of the evangelical movement. Douglas Sweeney tells the story of American evangelicalism with the passion and clarity of an insider and the insightful eye of a trained and seasoned historian. With recognition of evangelicalism’s imperfections and failures, Sweeney recounts a movement that attempts to be faithful to the Gospel, is broad and inclusive in its reach, and at its best motivates participants to act to change humanity both at home and abroad.
—David G. Roebuck, director, Hal Bernard Dixon Jr. Pentecostal Research Center
Sweeney’s bracing history of American evangelicalism brings the lesser-known branches of the movement into the fold, placing them in the broad context of the history of the church. This welcome addition to the field pulses with the author’s faith and optimism for the future growth of evangelicalism in a hurting world so long as it adheres to the historic mission of our faith. Even as he casts an attentive, critical eye on the mistakes of the past, Sweeney swings the gate wide open in a welcome embrace of the incredible diversity and richness of the American church. The strength of this book is that the author’s lucid and engaging analysis focuses not merely on ideas but on the consequences of faith in action. I strongly recommend this book as an introductory text to all students of Christian history, especially college freshmen at Christian colleges and universities.
—Judith Mendelsohn Rood, professor of history and Middle Eastern studies, Biola University
For those who have been looking for a brief, balanced, and reliable introduction to American evangelicalism, The American Evangelical Story is an excellent place to start. Scholars and general readers alike will benefit from Sweeney’s delightful wit, insightful reflections, interpretive balance, mastery of the sources, and clear prose.
—Garth M. Rosell, professor of church history, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary