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Evangelicals at a Crossroads
Revivalism and Social Reform in Boston, 1860–1910
Benjamin L. Hartley

Revisiting New England

New Hampshire
2011 • 304 pp. 13 illus. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"
American History / Religion

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-929-7
$37.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-941-9

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

M]agnificently researched . . . the book demonstrates that interactions between revivalism and social reform were far more complex than commonly portrayed. In fact, the author points out that revivalism and social... [continued in Reviews below]”—Choice

The story of Boston revivalism and social reform

Benjamin L. Hartley brings to light the little-known story of relative latecomers to Boston’s religious scene: Methodist, Salvation Army, Baptist, and nondenominational Christians. Focusing on Congregationalists and Roman Catholics, Boston urban historians have largely overlooked these groups. Hartley, however, sheds light on the role of immigrant evangelical leaders from Italy, Sweden, and elsewhere in revivalism and social reform in postbellum Boston. Further, examining the contested nature of revivalism and social reform in a particular, local nineteenth-century context provides a basis for understanding the roots of current divisions in American Protestantism and the contentious role of evangelical religion in American politics. Hartley documents the importance of the American holiness movement as a precursor to the significant presence of Pentecostal groups in urban America, adding an important historical context for evangelical social action today.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“[M]agnificently researched . . . the book demonstrates that interactions between revivalism and social reform were far more complex than commonly portrayed. In fact, the author points out that revivalism and social reform experienced coupling and de-coupling within religious leaders in varied mixtures as those leaders interacted with Boston’s political, economic, and demographic climate. Hartley argues convincingly that the holiness movement shaped the spirituality of a broad array of leading figures—not only among Methodists, but also among Episcopalians, Baptists, and even Unitarians, even as its strength waned by the beginning of the 20th century. . . Highly recommended.”Choice

“Readers familiar with the literature on settlement houses, the story of the displacement of Brahmins by Irish Catholics, or the history of the modernist-fundamentalist controversies will find themselves in new territory, and this alone would make this a significant book. . . . Evangelicals at a Crossroads is a useful and corrective addition to the rich literature on the most chronicled city in American religious history.”H-SHGAPE

“Hartley's book provides a welcome addition to the previously unexplored role of New England Methodists in the holiness movement and their strong anti-Catholic stance at the end of the nineteenth century as well as an expansion of the social reform efforts of such persons as Henry Helms, Eben Tourjee, Amanda Clark and others, including the role of both students and professors at Boston University School of Theology. Evangelicals at the Crossroads is well researched and well documented, yet is written in language than can easily be grasped by all readers. It is an important book both for those interested in the history of evangelicals as well as those interested in New England Methodism.”—Methodist History

“In charting the long arc of religion and reform from these unexpected sources, Hartley has added usefully to what historians know of the religious life of the city.”—Catholic Historical Review

“Concentrating on the upstart revivalism and social reform of the Methodists, Baptists, and Salvationists in late nineteenth-century Boston, Hartley’s carefully researched and well-written book is a landmark study of urban evangelicalism in post-Civil War America. In particular, he shows how eclectic, cantankerous, and contentious evangelicals, both men and women, brought together revivalism and social reform, anti-Catholic and labor politics, and local revivals and international mission. Evangelicals built institutions, addressed the evils of the city, fought with each other over doctrines and priorities, and eventually saw their influence ebb in the face of new forces at the beginning of the twentieth century. Hartley’s terse and persuasive analysis of urban evangelicalism before fundamentalism gathered traction fills a significant gap in our knowledge.”—David Hempton, McDonald Professor, Harvard Divinity School

BENJAMIN L. HARTLEY is an associate professor at the Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University in Philadelphia.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:05:14 -0500