Religious Fundamentalism in American Culture

In 1909, California businessman Lyman Stewart, the founder of Union Oil, and his brother Milton anonymously provided funds for composing, printing, and distributing The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth  to almost every minister, missionary, professor of theology, YMCA employee, and Sunday school teacher in America. All in all, over 3 million volumes, each containing 90 essays, were distributed free of charge. This course will focus on the results of this undertaking: the so-called Fundamental explosion in American culture. We will explore the historical roots of fundamentalism and the theological and sociological focus of the fundamentalist, and examine trends, current examples, and future predictions of the movement. While this class will examine theological issues, we will do so from a sociological etic (outsider/academic) perspective. We will explore the deeper causes of fundamentalism as response/reaction to external forces, the role of fundamentalism in religion in general (not just in American Christianity), and explore the various political and theological ways fundamentalism is expressed. 

Recommended Reading:

  • Fundamentalism and American Culture (New Edition), George M. Marsden
  • The Fundamentals - A Testimony To The Truth Volume 1 (Google “The Fundamentals: A Testimony to The Truth” to find several free PDF versions)
  • With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America , William Martin
  • Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention, Nancy Ammerman

Registration deadline: Feb. 11

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