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Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America [Paperback]

By Jeffery Sheler (Author)
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Item description for Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America by Jeffery Sheler...

A groundbreaking insider's look at the lives and culture of American evangelicals In Believers, award-winning religion journalist Jeffery L. Sheler offers a unique and intimate look at the evangelical Christian subculture-a faith tradition that some sixty million Americans call their own. With panoramic sweep and compelling narrative detail, Sheler, who grew up as an evangelical, breaks through the stereotypes to examine not just the big-time ministers but also the ordinary people who make up this dynamic movement. Traveling across the nation, Sheler visits today's evangelicals at work, at home, and at worship to discover how their faith shapes their lives and how they are influencing the public debate in this country. Stops along the way include: * the trend-setting Saddleback Church, a fifteen-thousand-member congregation in Lake Forest, California, that is a template for the evangelical megachurch movement * the picturesque campus of Wheaton College in Illinois, the flagship of a burgeoning network of evangelical colleges * Washington, D.C., where some of evangelicalism's chief political operatives roam the corridors of power Throughout, Sheler reports that the evangelical movement is much more diverse and complex than often portrayed. At a time when the religious right is more influential than ever, Believers is a timely and eye-opening exploration of the motives, aspirations, and agendas of American evangelicals.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.9" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 31, 2008
Publisher   Penguin Group USA
ISBN  0143112678  
ISBN13  9780143112679  

Availability  0 units.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America?

Glad it came from him  Jun 17, 2007
I'm glad that evenhanded religion journalist Jeffery L. Sheler is the one that takes us through the world of American evangelicalism in his recent book-length report Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America. Having grown up in the deep South, I'm always interested in this topic, and Sheler has a great background for reporting on it: he's been on the inside and the outside, having gone through an intense evangelical stage as a teenager and since joined Mainline Presbyterianism. He represents a wide swath of American Christians and a wider swath of any kind of American that's curious about the rise of the evangelicals' political prowess and the roots of a movement that seems stronger than ever. Great background on major figures like George Whitestone, John Wesley, and more modern mouthpieces Pat Robertson and Billy Graham. You'll meet evangelicals from lots of different points of view, and the big surprise is that the movement is not as cohesive as you might think. A fascinating read, though slow at points.
Each conversation serves to shed more light on the many faces of evangelicalism  Jun 6, 2007
Thanks to the growing influence of evangelicals on the politics and culture of America, journalists like Jeffery Sheler are beginning to take a closer look at just who these people are who identify with evangelicalism. And what they're discovering is that evangelical America is far more diverse and far more normal than the media --- print, television and film alike --- portray. In making this discovery, Sheler, contributing for religion for U.S. News & World Report, crisscrossed the country observing and interviewing evangelical Christians, both well-known leaders and the so-called "people in the pew."

Unlike some journalists (including one clueless reporter Sheler heard about who expected to witness a person being born-again, as if it was a visible ritual), Sheler did not enter the world of evangelicalism as a complete stranger. Spiritually reared in a fundamentalist Baptist church, Sheler eventually became disenchanted with fundamentalism, began attending a Nazarene church and, later, a Nazarene college, before transferring to a state university. Clearly, Sheler understands the nuances that distinguish fundamentalism from evangelicalism, something many in the media miss.

To launch his quest, Sheler began at the Rock Church in Virginia Beach, VA, pastored by John and Anne Gimenez, where the line between faith and politics appeared to be particularly blurred to him (not all that surprising, considering Gimenez's geographic, political and spiritual proximity to Pat Robertson). Sheler's journey included visits to other mega churches, such as Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Warren, author of the unprecedented bestseller THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE, represented the opposite end of the faith-politics spectrum --- unlike Gimenez or Robertson, Warren stays out of the public policy debate, and with him the diversity in evangelicalism becomes even more apparent.

From the academic rigor of Wheaton College near Chicago to the fun- and praise-filled environment of the annual rock festival in Pennsylvania known as Creation, from the ministry-saturated city of Colorado Springs to the evangelical think tanks in Washington, D.C., and from Billy Graham's 2006 New York crusade --- his last --- to the mission field in Guatemala, Sheler covers most of the bases that are representative of a religious movement that has risen to significant prominence in a relatively short time.

One distinctive feature of Sheler's work is the extensive history he provides, not only of the evangelical movement but also of the churches and other institutions --- such as Wheaton College --- that he examines along the way. Another is the many conversations he has with the previously mentioned people in the pew, though there's seldom a pew to be found in today's evangelical churches. He strikes up conversations with visitors to the Focus on the Family headquarters, young people at Creation 2005 and a Canadian volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, among others. Each conversation serves to shed more light on the many faces of evangelicalism, even when --- or perhaps, most often when --- one professing evangelical contradicts another.

Those outside the evangelical world will likely learn a great deal from BELIEVERS, while evangelicals themselves --- who, like me, may find a misinterpretation or two if they choose to quibble --- should be relieved that a journalist of Sheler's caliber has offered a fair and generally positive look into a world that outsiders just don't seem to get.

--- Reviewed by Marcia Ford
An Interesting Outsider's Look at Evangelical Christianity  Nov 29, 2006
US News and World Report editor Jeffery Sheler travels from place to place, meeting with evangelical Christian leaders and laypeople and discovers that they are normal people trying to live out their faith in ever changing times.

The book may have had its birth in the late 1980s in the wake of the televangelist sex scandals involving Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. While other US News reporters were making fun of gullible evangelicals, Sheler kne deep down that this was not the evangelicalism/fundamentalism he remembered as a youth.

Sheler himself was saved as a young man in a fundamental Baptist church back in the early 1960s, but later had joined a mainline church with his wife. He noticed that the evangelicalism of the 21st century seemed a lot different from the evangelicalism of 40 years earlier, and so he takes a trip through the wonderful world of evangelicalism. He meets with Pentecostal Bishop John Gimenez, James Dobson, Rick Warren, Cowboys for Christ, Albert Mohler Jr, Richard Mouw, and National Association of Evangelicals advisory board member Richard Cizik. The visit with James Dobson was revealing, as Dobson took the time to bristle at his critics who always want to ask him about his politics.

Sheler even takes a short term mission trip to Guatemala with a work group from an Atlanta Wesleyan church, which included an adventurous ride into the mountains on curvy roads without guard rails.

I would strongly recommned this book as a gift for anyone who is not an evangelical who wants an inside look into our culture. Sheler never tries to take cheap shots or portray the movement in an unfair light. You will enjoy his forays into evangelical America.

Rev. Marc Axelrod

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