Saving Faith: Making Religious Pluralism an American Value at the Dawn of the Secular Age

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9780801453946: Saving Faith: Making Religious Pluralism an American Value at the Dawn of the Secular Age
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In Saving Faith, David Mislin chronicles the transformative historical moment when Americans began to reimagine their nation as one strengthened by the diverse faiths of its peoples. Between 1875 and 1925, liberal Protestant leaders abandoned religious exclusivism and leveraged their considerable cultural influence to push others to do the same. This reorientation came about as an ever-growing group of Americans found their religious faith under attack on social, intellectual, and political fronts. A new generation of outspoken agnostics assailed the very foundation of belief, while noted intellectuals embraced novel spiritual practices and claimed that Protestant Christianity had outlived its usefulness.Faced with these grave challenges, Protestant clergy and their allies realized that the successful defense of religion against secularism required a defense of all religious traditions. They affirmed the social value―and ultimately the religious truth―of Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. They also came to view doubt and uncertainty as expressions of faith. Ultimately, the reexamination of religious difference paved the way for Protestant elites to reconsider ethnic, racial, and cultural difference. Using the manuscript collections and correspondence of leading American Protestants, as well the institutional records of various churches and religious organizations, Mislin offers insight into the historical constructions of faith and doubt, the interconnected relationship of secularism and pluralism, and the enormous influence of liberal Protestant thought on the political, cultural, and spiritual values of the twentieth-century United States.

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About the Author:

David Mislin is Assistant Professor in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University.

Review:

"Saving Faith offers a compelling exploration of the roots of contemporary Protestantism's commitment to religious inclusivism and enriches our understanding of a crucial period in American religious history."

(American Historical Review)

"Focusing on mainstream Protestant clergy in the US from the 1870s through the 1930s―and also devoting limited attention to liberal movements among Catholic and Jewish leaders of the time―Mislin (American intellectual and religious history, Temple Univ.) argues persuasively for a dramatic shift in American religious thought in response to urbanization and modern culture."

(David Mislin Choice)

"Mislin's bookwhile rightly pointing out that many liberal Protestants 'largely ignored African Americans and their religious commitments in their pronouncements on the beneficial nature of pluralism, provides much-needed historical background to some of the theological and organizational developments that help explain why liberal Protestants began more actively addressing issues of race and ethnicity by the 1920s (8). It is a work that should be widely read as we come to a fuller appreciation of the role that liberal Protestants played in making America modern.'"

(Curtis Evans Reading Religion)

"There is plenty to like in this well-written and well-organized book. My favorite chapter was probably the first, in which Mislin discusses changing attitudes towards doubt. Mislin's linking of doubt to the preservation of belief is an astute and unique contribution. Mislin should also be applauded for bringing Catholic and Jewish perspectives into his narrative. Even if liberal Protestants are the main subjects of study, he does not let them have the only word."

(Paul Putz Religion in American History)

"Through careful examination of denominational and institutional records, personal papers, and correspondence between leading liberal Protestant figures, Mislin has crafted a thoughtful, persuasive, and engaging account of an important transitional era in American religious history."

(John Young American Nineteenth Century History)

"Saving Faith is a wonderful book that explores how establishment Protestants wrestled with the emergence of secularism, atheism, agnosticism, and pluralism in nineteenth-century America. David Mislin's focus is predominantly on the clergy and other leaders of the liberal mainline churches, and so he has produced an intellectual history as well as a political and religious history. In weaving together these three closely related but distinct subfields, Mislin has produced a work of remarkable originality and insight."

(Andrew Preston, Cambridge University, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy)

"Saving Faith offers a fresh reconsideration of liberal Protestant engagement with religious variety at the turn of the twentieth century. Examining leading clergy and intellectuals, David Mislin unearths the roots of the pluralist and ecumenical aspirations that came to full flower after mid-century. His is a subtle depiction of how liberal Protestants captured interreligious commitments out of their growing doubts about the uniqueness of their own Christian faith."

(Leigh E. Schmidt, Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor, Washington University in St. Louis, author of Restless Souls)

"David Mislin's provocative and elegant book rewrites our understanding of religion’s adaptation to modern American life. Mislin highlights the dynamics by which liberal American Protestants came to celebrate rather than lament increasing diversity. The 'Christian doubters,’ pioneers in comparative religions, and leaders of early ecumenical and goodwill movements he chronicles not only set the stage for the wider embrace of pluralism after World War II but also have much to teach us, in yet another moment of great religious conflict, about this vital yet unfinished work."

(Matthew S. Hedstrom, University of Virginia, author of The Rise of Liberal Religion)

"The United States has been a largely Christian nation, but its churchgoers have often invested more energy fighting among themselves―and poaching from other churches―than converting unbelievers. In this sprightly and meticulously researched new book, David Mislin shows how a coterie of liberal Protestants in the late nineteenth century embraced an ecumenical vision that sought to erase sectarian divisions and include Roman Catholics. By World War I even Jews were being courted. Saving Faith is an impressive contribution to the increasingly important history of religious pluralism in America."

(Ronald L. Numbers, Hilldale Professor Emeritus of the History of Science and Medicine and of Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, coeditor of Gods in America)

"Drawing largely upon primary and archival sources, Mislin examines the challenges faced by America's liberal Protestants from 1875 to 1925, when they felt their cultural influence threatened by profound economic, political, and intellectual change.... Mislin's first chapter, especially, focused on doubt, is useful in contextualizing the cultural movement - characterized by crises of faith and Protestants' fear of the erosion of their authority."

(Williams James Studies)

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2020. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In Saving Faith, David Mislin chronicles the transformative historical moment when Americans began to reimagine their nation as one strengthened by the diverse faiths of its peoples. Between 1875 and 1925, liberal Protestant leaders abandoned religious exclusivism and leveraged their considerable cultural influence to push others to do the same. This reorientation came about as an ever-growing group of Americans found their religious faith under attack on social, intellectual, and political fronts. A new generation of outspoken agnostics assailed the very foundation of belief, while noted intellectuals embraced novel spiritual practices and claimed that Protestant Christianity had outlived its usefulness.Faced with these grave challenges, Protestant clergy and their allies realized that the successful defense of religion against secularism required a defense of all religious traditions. They affirmed the social value-and ultimately the religious truth-of Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. They also came to view doubt and uncertainty as expressions of faith. Ultimately, the reexamination of religious difference paved the way for Protestant elites to reconsider ethnic, racial, and cultural difference. Using the manuscript collections and correspondence of leading American Protestants, as well the institutional records of various churches and religious organizations, Mislin offers insight into the historical constructions of faith and doubt, the interconnected relationship of secularism and pluralism, and the enormous influence of liberal Protestant thought on the political, cultural, and spiritual values of the twentieth-century United States. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780801453946

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