The Pietist Schoolman Goes to Baltimore

Over at The Anxious Bench, Miles Mullin concluded a post on the history of progressive evangelicalism with an announcement that involves yours truly:

Swartz, Moral Minority…fellow Anxious Bench blogger, David Swartz, has penned Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age in Conservatism (2012), the best work on the topic to date.  If you find yourself interested in such topics, I have some good news for you.

With Moral Minority as the centerpiece, I will chair a session at the Annual Meeting of The Evangelical Theological Society entitled, “The Evangelical Left: Retrospect and Prospect.”  Participant Observer Richard Pierard will discuss why the “moral minority” could not become a majority, international historian Chris Gehrz will assess the global aspects of the evangelical left, and theologian/church historian Owen Strachan, will engage the topic in light of ne0-evangelicalism’s strategy for cultural engagement.  Discussion will follow.  So, if you find yourself in Baltimore in November, please make plans to attend.  It promises to be a lively session, as the participants approach the topic from differing perspectives regarding the progressive evangelical movement.

I’m grateful to Miles for the invitation — and to David for writing such an admirable book to begin with. A lengthy parenthetical comment about Moral Minority in an earlier post will hint at the direction of my paper, but here’s the 100-word abstract I submitted:

While David Swartz’s Moral Minority is widely praised for its treatment of the recent history of politically progressive evangelicalism in the United States, in light of recent historiographical trends it is also significant for its attentiveness to evangelicalism in the Global South. First, Swartz’s study of Samuel Escobar and other Latin American evangelicals underscores the value of moving away from predominantly “national” history and embracing a more international or transnational perspective. Second, it should continue to encourage international historians — as they take a “cultural turn” away from their traditional emphases on diplomacy, strategy, and war — not to neglect or oversimplify the role of religion in international relations.

Owen Strachan
Owen Strachan – Boyce College

It’s an exciting opportunity, though I’m not sure (a) that I can fill the allotted time (twice as long as what we get on panels at the equivalent society of Christian historians!), or (b) that the premise of a non-theologian musing about historiographical trends will be much of a draw — at least not compared to the promise of seeing Dick Pierard and (from the other end of one or two spectrums) Owen Strachan have at it.

Mostly, it’ll just be good to interact with the others involved on this panel: Dick contributed a chapter on missions to our Pietist Impulse book, and is simply one of the most respected figures in the Conference on Faith and History; Miles is a fellow WWII buff whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging/tweeting but not met in person; and I clearly have much to learn from Owen about being an academic who records hip-hop on the side.

Hope to see you there, in case you’re an ETS member — or just taking a pre-Thanksgiving vacation to Baltimore.

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