This wide-ranging study examines the ever-evolving forms of Christianity in the US, and why this constant reinvention is a vital part of American faith.
Christianity takes an astonishing variety of forms in America: from traditional chapels to modern megachurches, from evangelical fellowships to social-action groups, and from Pentecostal faith to apocalyptic movements. Stephen Cox argues that radical and unpredictable change is one of the few dependable features of Christianity in America. It is in a necessary and ongoing state of revolution and has been throughout our history.
Cox explores how both Catholic and Protestant churches have evolved in ways that would make them seem alien to their past adherents. He traces the rise of uniquely American movements, from the Mormons to the Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and brings to life the vivid personalities—Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Sunday, and many others—who have taken the gospel to the masses.
Cox also sheds new light on such issues as American Christians’ constantly changing political involvements, their controversial revisions in the style and substance of worship, and their chronic expectation that God is about to intervene conclusively in human life. Asserting that “a church that doesn’t promise new beginnings can never prosper in America,” Cox demonstrates that American Christianity must be seen not as a sociological phenomenon but as the ever-changing story of individual seekers.