Any new issue of Fides et Historia is a cause for celebration, but the Winter/Spring 2015 iteration of the journal of the Conference on Faith and History (CFH) is truly an embarrassment of riches. Reflections on the Incarnation and on mystery, a special review of my former Bethel colleague Steve Keillor’s approach to providential history, anniversary responses to David Bebbington’s “Evangelical Quadrilateral” by everyone from Thomas Kidd to Molly Worthen (plus Bebbington’s reply)…
And then I show up, as part of a roundtable response to David Swartz’s Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism. Long-time readers may remember that this began its life as a session at the 2013 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society — organized by Miles Mullin (one Anxious Bench-er celebrating another) and featuring comments by Dick Pierard, Owen Strachan, and myself.
I had published my remarks here at the blog right after ETS ended, but when Fides editor Don Yerxa agreed to Miles’ suggestion that we convert that panel into a published roundtable, it gave me a chance to revisit my paper. I trimmed much of the first half — on the “religious turn” in my home field of diplomatic/international history — and polished my central claim: that the most significant aspect of David’s book is that he dedicated a whole chapter to Latin American evangelicals, drew on Spanish-language sources to do so, and paid attention to transnational currents reshaping evangelicalism in the 1960s and 1970s.
I think my argument holds up, but the nature of traditional journal publishing being what it is, I also need to acknowledge that what I wrote (over a year ago) is, in spots, now a bit out of date. Fortunately, David took care of some of this, dedicating half of his response to my “global reflex” piece and generously noting other examples of historians whose studies of evangelicalism are more international or even transnational and less focused on the United States.
But let me add a few more updates:
1. I mention Brantley Gasaway’s dissertation — on the public theology of politically progressive evangelicals — but can now point readers to the published version of the same, out from University of North Carolina Press as of last October.
2. I quote from a Books & Culture article by Mark Noll (also part of the Bebbington roundtable this issue), but even more apropos of this discussion is his new memoir of his “discovery of the global Christian story.”
3. To illustrate that English-speaking religious historians tend still to be most interested in religion in the global north, I offered a gentle critique of CFH itself, noting that only five of 37 concurrent sessions at the 2012 biennial meeting at Gordon College “focused somewhere other than North America or Europe.” I’m not sure the ratio changed drastically two years later at Pepperdine, but it was good to see panels dedicated to Brazilian evangelicalism, indigenous Christianities in south Asia and west Africa, the value of teaching non-Western history in Christian colleges, and the global context for Anglo-American Christianity. Plus a paper on Korean-American churches and a Noll-hosted screening of a new documentary on the Pietist missionary Bartolomäus Ziegenbalg that was as much about Tamil Christians as their European brethren.