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Fundamentalism and American Culture

Third Edition

George M. Marsden

Publication Date - 25 January 2022

ISBN: 9780197599495

464 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


Fundamentalism and American Culture has long been considered a classic in religious history, and to this day remains unsurpassed. Now available in a new edition, this highly regarded analysis takes us through the full history of the origin and direction of one of America's most influential religious movements.

In the twenty-first century, militantly conservative white evangelicals have become more prominent than ever in American life. Marsden's volume, which now takes the history through the end of the Trump administration, remains the essential starting point for understanding the degree to which that militancy has been shaped by the fundamentalist heritage of the twentieth century.

For Marsden, fundamentalists are, in the broadest sense, conservative evangelicals who are willing to take a stand and to fight. Yet their militancy needs to be understood in the light of some specific aspects of their heritage. In the late nineteenth-century, American Protestantism was gradually dividing between liberals who were accepting new scientific and higher critical views that contradicted the Bible and defenders of the more traditional evangelicalism. Often the “traditionalists” were also innovators in affirming apocalyptic prophesies of the imminent destruction of modern civilization and the return of Christ. By the 1920s, a full-fledged "fundamentalist" movement had developed in protest against theological changes in the churches, the teaching of biological evolution in schools, and changing mores in the culture. Fundamentalists often were conflicted by impulses to separate from condemned modern culture or to take back America as a Christian nation. Even with such tensions, fundamentalists built networks of evangelists, Bible conferences, Bible institutes, and mission agencies. These coalesced into major religious movements that proved to have remarkable staying power. Beginning in the 1970s, fundamentalist impulses led to increasing overt political mobilization and the rise of the religious right. In the twenty-first century, militant fundamentalist zeal to preserve Biblicist doctrinal and behavioral purity in churches remained strong, but often was overshadowed by more widely popular impulses of Christian nationalism and political partisanship.

New to this Edition

  • Includes a new preface and concluding chapter reflecting on the contemporary climate of religious fundamentalism and its political implications


  • Covers the full history of the origin and direction of one of America's most influential religious movements
  • Offers the best way to understand the history of fundamentalism in our rapidly polarizing nation
  • Examines how a full-fledged fundamentalist movement developed in America

About the Author(s)

George M. Marsden is Francis A. McAnaney Professor Emeritus of History at The University of Notre Dame and a Distinguished Scholar in the History of Christianity at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has published major works on a variety of topics concerning American religion and culture, and his awards include The Bancroft Prize in History and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


"One of Christianity Today's 100 Books of the Century" --

"Superb...to be recommended to all students of early twentieth-century culture and religion." -- American Historical Review

"Scholarship at its best." -- Religious Studies Review

"Marsden reveals a great deal of history, showing the origins, development and growth of evangelicalism and fundamentalism. His is a focused yet broad scholarly work that has stood the test of time, a worthwhile history resource on fundamentalism in America." -- Congregational Libraries Today

Table of Contents

    Preface to the Third Edition

    Part One
    Before Fundamentalism
    I. Evangelical America at the Brink of Crisis
    II. The Paths Diverge
    III. D. L. Moody and a New American Evangelism

    Part Two
    The Shaping of a Coalition
    This Age and the Millennium

    IV. Prologue: The Paradox of Revivalist Fundamentalism
    V. Two Revisions of Millennialism
    VI. Dispensationalism and the Baconian Ideal
    VII. History, Society, and the Church


    VIII. The Victorious Life
    IX. The Social Dimensions of Holiness
    X. “The Great Reversal,”
    XI. Holiness and Fundamentalism

    The Defense of the Faith

    XII. Tremors of Controversy
    XIII. Presbyterians and the Truth
    XIV. The Fundamentals

    Christianity and Culture

    XV. Four Views Circa 1910
    1. This Age Condemned: The Premillennial Extreme
    2. The Central Tension
    3. William Jennings Bryan: Christian Civilization Preserved
    4. Transforming Culture by the Word

    Part Three
    The Crucial Years: 1917-1925

    XVI. World War I, Premillennialism, and American Fundamentalism: 1917-1918
    XVII. Fundamentalism and the Cultural Crisis: 1919-1920
    XVIII. The Fundamentalist Offensive on Two Fronts: 1920-1921
    XIX. Would the Liberals Be Driven from the Denominations? 1922-1923
    XX. The Offensive Stalled and Breaking Apart: 1924-1925
    XXI. Epilogue: Dislocation, Relocation, and Resurgence: 1925-1940

    Part Four
    XXII. Fundamentalism as a Social Phenomenon
    XXIII. Fundamentalism as a Political Phenomenon
    XXIV. Fundamentalism as an Intellectual Phenomenon
    XXV. Fundamentalism as an American Phenomenon

    Part Five
    Fundamentalism Yesterday and Today (2005)

    Part Six
    What Happened to Fundamentalism in the Twenty-First Century

    Afterword: History and Fundamentalism
    Bibliographical Indexes

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