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The Democratization of American Christianity [Paperback]

By Nathan O. Hatch (Author)
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Item description for The Democratization of American Christianity by Nathan O. Hatch...

Looks at changes in the Christian church just after the American Revolution, and explains how the desire for democracy led to the rise of new religious movements

Publishers Description
A reassessment of religion and culture in the early days of the American Republic, arguing that during this period American Christianity was democratized and common people became powerful actors on the religious scene. This book was co-winner of the 1990 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Democratization of American Christianity by Nathan O. Hatch has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 04/19/1991

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Yale University Press
Pages   312
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.17" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.98"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 23, 1991
Publisher   Yale University Press
ISBN  0300050607  
ISBN13  9780300050608  

Availability  10 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 27, 2016 10:41.
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More About Nathan O. Hatch

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Hatch is Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

Nathan O. Hatch has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Notre Dame Professor of History University of Notre Dame.

Nathan O. Hatch has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Library of Religious Biography

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 19th Century > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Democratization of American Christianity?

"We the people" religion  Feb 19, 2008
Thanks Mr. Hatch for writing this book!

How did the church in America get to its present position where it fails to realize that the body of Christ is dependent on God raising up distinctly graced individuals to authoritatively, accurately, and relevantly preach the Word? Read this book and find out.

Clearly demonstrates how the church which is supposed to be led by the Spirit of Christ, has instead been disasterously infected by the spirit of '76 since the time of the revolution. God help us!
"Religious Populism" in the Early Republic  Aug 13, 2007
Nathan O. Hatch uses the second sentence of The Democratization of American Christianity to inform the reader that the book argues "both that the theme of democratization is central to understanding the development of American Christianity, and that the years of the early republic are the most crucial in revealing that process" (3). To this end, Hatch focuses on the diffusion of the Methodists, Baptists, Mormons, Disciples of Christ, and African-American Christians across post-revolutionary America as a challenge to more established denominations, like the New England Congregationalists and Virginia Anglicans, and political elites.

The brilliance of Hatch's argument lies in its illustration of a confluence of Protestant growth with the expansion of democratic thought and application in the country. The book's most central contribution to the study of American Christianity is the concept of "religious populism" in the early republic, which at once speaks to the American Christianity's innovative ability to reach out to various populations, and to the loyalty to American religion that such outreach efforts endeared among its adherents. In some sense, a demand for less-elitist, more-egalitarian forms of worship and congregational life existed, and the predominantly unlettered, zealous, "bold intruders" (aka ministers) of faith adapted preach styles and techniques to meet that demand.

The book begins to fill a gap in our understanding of religious life in 1780s and 1790s America. In the historiographical section--a must-read for any scholar--"Redefining the Second Great Awakening: A Note on the Study of Christianity in the Early Republic," Hatch confronts the question of difficulties surrounding the religious history of the early national period. "There are more generalizations and less solid data on the dynamics of American religion in this period than in any other in our history" (p. 220). Though he cannot single-handedly erase this deficiency, Hatch, for his part, has crafted a needed work that illumines the power of popular religious movements through the actions and travels of their dynamic leaders.

The stars of The Democratization of American Christianity are Lorenzo Dow, Alexander Campbell, Richard Allen, Francis Asbury, Joseph Smith, John Leland, and other religious leaders. Hatch builds his case for a popularizing religion on the backs of deft religious leadership and their success at movement-building. Although these Christian "insurgents" held differing beliefs and employed various techniques, these men excelled at popular written and verbal communication, triggered a revolt against Christian tradition, and inaugurated a new era of religious life in America. Hatch's portrayal of early America's religious leaders presents them as revolutionaries, not wholly unlike the colonials in Philadelphia who laid an ideological foundation for the Revolution.

Christian adherents and secular historians alike will benefit from this excellent account of Christianity's democratic and westward shift in the early republic. The Democratization of American Christianity is neither dogmatic nor apologetic. Well-researched and brilliantly-conceived, the book locates the spread of American Christianity within a post-Revolutionary context marked by less paternalistic and more populist ideas. To that end, "the most striking evidence of the democratization of Christianity in the early republic was that black preachers successfully laid claim to 'the sacred desk'" (p. 112). Hatch's book and Gordon Woods' Pulitzer-Prize winning The Radicalism of the American Revolution demonstrate the fertility within the first generations of American nationals for popular democracy and religious zeal.

Hatch's emphasis on movement-making and the management of revivals distorts his analysis of Christianity's spread across America by limiting or excluding any discussion of spiritual renewal. The fault, however, is now entirely his. The historical profession remains largely incapable of documenting and validating the role of spiritual activity within the human condition. Historians are much more comfortable attributing mass religious conversions and life-changing ideals to marketing techniques and popular political environments. Yet, when the eighteenth-century camp meetings and preachers awakened "spiritual convulsions" in revival participants, it seems incumbent upon scholars to more fully examine and evaluate peoples' interaction with God in religion. That said, Nathan O. Hatch's The Democratization of American Christianity is a bold step in a constructive direction; a step that the current and future field of historian would do well to follow.
The Democratization of American Christianity  Jun 30, 2007
Bought this for my friend Justin D. Vollmar. Justin mentioned to me that he was so excited to read the book!
A Christian perspective.  Jun 21, 2007
If you want to understand why the twenty-first century American Evengelical Church is rife with heretical teachings and outright apostasy, read this book. In The Democratization of American Christianity, Nathan Hatch demonstrates how the American Revolution spawned the so-called Second Great Awakening, a religious rebellion, which led to an abandonment of Orthodox Christianity in favor of a pluralism that plagues American Protestantism to this very day. The egalitarian values of the Enlightenment that dominated the American conscience of the early nineteenth century allowed a host of false teachers to lead a revolt of the laity against a clergy that, while Biblically Orthodox in their doctrine, had allowed affluance and intellectualism to overcome their sense of Christian charity. Spicing their sermons with coarse language, emotional appeals, Jeffersonian quotations, quaint stories and rabald humor, these populists taught that every individual must interpret the scriptures according to their own conscience. These "teachings" led to an "anything goes Christianity" that included the embracing of such heresies as Arminianism, Mormanism, Perfectionism and Universalism, the apostasy of Unitarianism and even Transcendentalism: anything other than Biblical Orthodoxy. One hundred and fifty years later, this pluralism continues to permeate American Protestanism, currently manifesting itself in the Emerging Church movement, which is a blending of Christianity with New Age spiriualism that denies the authority of scripture itself. Though Hatch does not set out to do so, he demonstrates the great truth that heresy always leads to apostasy.
Worthy of the Honor Received  Mar 22, 2006
This well researched and written book is worthy of the honors it has received. This book was suggested to us by our Pastor because of our prevailing struggle with a democratic view of the Church. Even though we are laypersons and not in the academic world, we found this work helpful in pointing to the root of our faulty thinking.

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