Guest / Limited Access /
Reviews

/

The Trouble with Touchy-Feely Faith
Image: Illustration by Amanda Duffy
Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Book Title
Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism
Author
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Release Date
December 3, 2013
Pages
208
Price
$25.16
Buy Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism from Amazon

Journalists who covered the 2014 "origins" debate between creationist Ken Ham and evolutionist Bill Nye were able to avail themselves of two ready-made narratives about American evangelicals. One underscored the tensions between traditional evangelical beliefs and those of a modern secular society. The other highlighted evangelicals' presence and participation in American public life. Of course, the Ham–Nye debate offered fuel for both storylines at once.

Among journalists and scholars, the keys to understanding and interpreting evangelicals have long been their distinct theological beliefs and their values-based activism. Even many self-proclaimed evangelicals use these benchmarks to explain ourselves to ourselves. This is why we elevate figures like Billy Graham, a paragon of evangelical belief, and (take your pick) James Dobson or Jim Wallis, who together represent the spectrum of evangelical social action, to typify our movement.

But historian Todd M. Brenneman wonders if the beating heart of evangelical identity lies elsewhere, perhaps most centrally along the aisles of the local LifeWay Christian Store. In Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press), Brenneman shifts the conversation away from beliefs and actions toward feelings. He shows how popular forms of evangelical expression traffic in familial and tender imagery: God as father, people as "little children," and nostalgic longings for home and the traditional middle-class nuclear family.

Brenneman draws compelling links between the worlds of religious consumer goods—from Christian CDs, DVDs, and books to toys, home decor, and devotional art—and ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Browse All Book Reviews By:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedThe Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Subscriber Access Only The Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Michael Horton's message to restless believers: Stay put, and build the church.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickWas Driscoll's Board a Problem?
Was Driscoll's Board a Problem?
Outside Insight: Some say it’s the new norm. Others don’t consider it biblical.
Comments
Christianity Today
The Trouble with Touchy-Feely Faith
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.