assigned reading : GAUSTAD & SCHMIDT CHAPTER 7.
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1) 19th century Revivalism and Millennialism
2) Contemporary Protestantism in America
3) The American Origins of Pentecostalism
Respond to question-sets A & C, and two other question-sets. PLEASE NOTE: You do not need to answer every question within a question-set.
A) As the single largest Christian group to originate in America, with over ½ billion followers worldwide, Pentecostalism is an important topic in any study of religion in America. Discuss the “Tidal Wave” broadcast with attention to some of the following: race and ethnicity, women’s roles, egalitarian impulse, social justice issues, experimental church services, “transformative whole body spirituality.” Why does Pentecostalism tend to attract people “on the margins” of society? What are some of the distinctions between Christian fundamentalism and Pentecostalism?
B) The broadcast mentioned Pentecostalism’s “egalitarian impulse” and the view of Pentecostalism as a “school for democracy.” What do you think is meant by this? Do you agree with this assessment?
C) Based on the broadcast “The New Evangelical Leaders,” how would you characterize Evangelicalism, historically (19th century) and in more recent times, along the spectrum from political conservatism to political progressivism? What has been the relationship, historically (19th century) and in more recent times, between Evangelicalism and social justice issues (poverty, human trafficking, civil rights, etc.)? What role does the “Sermon on the Mount” play in Jim Wallis’s perspective?
D) Krista Tippet asked whether Jim Wallis’ viewpoints and activities raise some issues regarding separation of church and state—Do you think they do? If so, how so?
E) Our text states that in the decades following American independence, the principle of “voluntarism” came to be the distinguishing feature of religion in America. What is religious “voluntarism” and how and why did this principle become so important to religious life in America? Do you feel it is still as important now as it was during the 19th century?
F) If you had to choose between belonging to one of the two historical American utopian religious communities featured in our text, the Shakers and Oneida, which would you prefer? Why? What responses do you suppose the present-day American public would be likely to have to either of these groups were they to have been founded this year and not in the 19th century?
G) This week’s reading concludes with the assertion that, “much of 19th century American religion remained torn between Protestant desires for an evangelical empire” and “Whitmanesque prophecies of an all-out religious democracy” (in which persons would be free to “re-examine all you have been told at schools or church or in any book” and to “dismiss whatever insults your own soul”). In your opinion, is contemporary America still torn along a similar divide, or has the situation changed? Explain.