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New Book on Billy Graham and Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism

Graham-bookOver at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, Messiah College professor John Fea has posted an interview with Grant Wacker, a professor at Duke University and author of the forthcoming book America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Belknap Press, 2014).

Here’s a taste of John’s interview:

JF: In two sentences, what is the argument of America’s Pastor?
GW: The book argues that Graham’s success is at least partly attributable to his extraordinary ability to appropriate trends in the culture and then apply them to his purposes of personal evangelism and moral reform of the nation (and world).
JF: Why do we need to read America’s Pastor?
GW: I hope that it supplements the excellent biographical work of William Martin and others with a focus on the relation between Graham and post World War II America.

Read the full interview here.

Why might Wacker’s book be relevant to a Brethren in Christ audience? As I’ve argued in my research into the history of the Brethren in Christ and American Evangelicalism, many Brethren in Christ were enamored of Graham, his dynamic preaching, and his popular mid-century evangelistic crusades. At times, they also sought to “witness” to him about their particular doctrines, like nonresistance. In engaging with Graham — either at his crusades or in dialogues about peace — the Brethren in Christ were decisively shaped.

Wacker’s book, therefore, promises to tell us a great deal about a man who had an outsized influence on the theological evolution of the Brethren in Christ during the 1950s and 1960s. I hope to review Wacker’s book when it comes out later this fall, so stay tuned to the blog for more!