Baylor prof’s new book breaks down “Who is an Evangelical?”
If you follow politics, you’ve seen plenty of headlines or social media posts in recent months along the lines of “Evangelicals believe [a certain stance on an issue]” or “Evangelicals support [this or that candidate]”.
And if you follow Dr. Thomas Kidd on Twitter, you’ve seen him repeatedly call out such posts — in particular, questioning how such stories determine who counts as an evangelical before reaching their conclusions.
Now, Kidd — a Baylor history professor since 2002 — has published his thinking in a new book: Who Is an Evangelical?: The History of a Movement in Crisis. In it, Kidd pulls from his expertise in American religious history to look back at the birth and growth of the evangelical movement, in the process illustrating how distorted the word “evangelical” has become when it comes to politics.
“The word ‘evangelical’ itself is a source of confusion: scholars, journalists, and the public can’t seem to decide what it means,” writes Kidd. “The term ‘evangelical’ has become fundamentally political in popular parlance… This book seeks to show how historically peculiar a partisan and ethnic definition of evangelicals is.”
“This book, written by one of the most respected historians of our time, examines evangelicalism with clarity and insight, through the telling of a riveting story,” notes Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Reading this book makes me remember why I loved the word ‘evangelical’ in the first place, and why I think our movement is worth saving.”
Who is an Evangelical? is the 10th book written and/or edited by Kidd. Two years ago, his spiritual biography of Benjamin Franklin was named one of the year’s top 10 religion and spirituality books by the American Library Association. Two of his other books — The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, and God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution — were named among the best books of the year by Christianity Today in 2008 and 2011, respectively.
Sic ’em, Dr. Kidd!