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How to Be Evangelical without Being Conservative [Hardcover]

By Roger E. Olson (Author)
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Item Number 67068  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 5.84" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   0.78 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2008
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
ISBN  0310283388  
EAN  9780310283386  
UPC  025986283384  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In recent years the American media have portrayed the evangelical movement as a conservative force in society equating it with fundamentalism. Many people equate evangelical Christianity with conservatism in religion, politics, theology and social attitudes. But is this the whole story of evangelicalism? Roger Olson?s new book sets forth evidence that the link between evangelicalism and conservatism has not always been as strong as it is today in the popular mind. Olson shows how contemporary evangelicals?who want to remain evangelical?can do so without identifying with conservatism in every way.

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More About Roger E. Olson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Roger E. Olson (PhD, Rice University) is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University. He is a prolific author whose volumes include The Story of Christian Theology and The Mosaic of Christian Belief. He is also coauthor of 20th-Century Theology.

Roger E. Olson currently resides in the state of Texas.

Roger E. Olson has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology
  2. Westminster Handbooks to Christian Theology

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General   [0  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Insightful and Thoughtful book  Feb 9, 2010
The title was enough to get me to buy and read this book, and Olson makes a good case that evangelical need not be equivalent with the ideals of the religious right. I don't agree with everything Olson says, but he does the evangelical movement a service by showing how being evangelical is not the same as being "conservative".
Olson's book gives unique answers  Oct 8, 2009

A couple years ago I had a conversation with a UM pastor who was expressing his frustration with "evangelical" churches. I listened for a while and agreed with him on much of what he had to say...but then reminded him that in our Book of Discipline, the UMC is referred to as an "Evangelical" Church. His concept of "evangelical" had become associated with the far right-wing; anti-woman; literalistic; conservative politically; version of what much of our media labels as "evangelical."

I began to wonder, myself, what is the "real definition" of "Evangelical" as understood by our Book of Discipline. I felt it was important that we "re-capture" that term for our denomination and it's original meaning...but didn't quite know how to do it.

While I was at the Jurisdictional CORR meeting...I discovered a book on the Cokesbury table entitled: "How to be Evangelical Without Being Conservative" by Roger E. Olson. I bought it...and just finished it. It was an amazingly helpful book in describing our roots as an Evangelical denomination while differentiating us from the far right-wing political agenda which is often associated with the word "evangelical."

It is an historical reminder of where the term "Evangelical" came from. It gives the historic 5 characteristics of our original "Evangelical" faith and explains in detail how that differs from what is often described as
"evangelical" in today's culture and media.

With chapter titles like: "Being Biblical without Orthodoxy" gives the original perspective of why Wesley could state that "orthodoxy has little to do with true religion of the heart". Other chapters are entitled "Celebrating America without Nationalism"..."Taking the Bible Seriously Without Literalism"..."Transforming Culture Without Domination"...."Updating Without Trivializing Worship"..."Accepting Without Affirming Flawed People"..."Practicing Equality Without Sacrificing Difference"...."Redistributing Wealth without Socialism" etc. And the conclusion entitled: "Toward a Postconservative Evangelicalism".

This book helped to identify, for me, the original meaning of "Evangelical" and re-define where we as United Methodists find our roots. Needless to was very helpful. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to re-discover our "Evangelical" roots and re-capture it's original meaning from the far right-wing political agenda.

For the chapter on "Redistributing Wealth without Socialism" I was reminded how our original Evangelical roots were solidly on the side of "the poor" and how the cries of "socialism" that we hear from the far right against universal healthcare; graduated tax system, etc. are really more a result of far-right, laissez-faire capitalism political agendas rather than having roots in evangelical history.

You may not agree with everything that is said.....but it is one of the best books I've read lately. I believe it will help us re-discover our Evangelical heritage in the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Gary E. Holdeman
Enid District Superintendent
The Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 5024
Enid, OK 73702

A good book that raises lots of very imnportant questions  Apr 25, 2009
"How to be Evangelical Without Being Conservative" is a good book and I recommend it, especially to those who believe that conservatism and evangelicalism are directed linked together.

The author is very open about his own background and his own questions and concerns. I appreciate his honesty and his ability to open himself to the attacks he will receive for asking "those kind of questions."

This book raises many excellent questions, and while I do not agree with all that is put forth, I do believe the issues highlighted are important and NEED to be discussed within Christian churches. Christians should not be afraid of deep and hard questions, and we all need to ponder how Christians should interact with the world to be effective salt and light, as well as keeping ourselves unstained by the world.

Too often in the world evangelicals have been "played" by politicians and have ended up being used. Christians need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. This book, "How to be Evangelical Without Being Conservative" can help us to be all that God calls us to be.

This book would serve well as a discussion starter in an adult class at church.
Read the First Half... Skip the rest...  Nov 6, 2008
How to be Evangelical without being Conservative by Roger Olson starts with great potential, by the end it becomes annoying. The early chapters deliver good analysis and reasoned challenges to the status quo of many American Evangelicals. By the end it feels a lot more like an axe-grinding polemic.

Olson's definition of Evangelical is traditional and accurate - so we're starting from a common point. His definition of Conservative is too much of a caricature - like a caricature it has a basis in fact, but is over-emphasized. His definition is true of a great many who are just afraid of change, yet Olson dismisses, or ignores the fact, that many Conservatives have actually looked at the options and made a rational choice...not just a longing to avoid change.

His arguments that Evangelicals should be biblical without orthodoxy as well as build character without moralism are good chapters. His main thesis in the former is that the church is not only reformata - reformed, but should so be semper reformanda - always reforming. Olson eschews what he calls "hardening of the categories" (pg. 33). In his attack on moralism Olson rightly points out that Evangelicals "have specialized in moralism toward society outside the church while neglecting church discipline" (pg. 48).

Olson is not afraid to take on some Evangelical sacred cows as he addresses the difference between patriotism vs. nationalism. Many of us can learn from his theses that American is not God's gift to the 20th Century, the "American way" is not tantamount to the Christian way; nor is Democracy or Capitalism any more biblical than other forms of government or economy. We should not "blend free market Capitalism with `God and the American way'" (pg. 131).

Though this is where Olson starts to grid his axes. He is right that we should not make Capitalism into some biblical doctrine. His definition of capitalism, though, is a thinly veiled and pejorative attack on the system. It too is a caricature, maybe even a straw man.

Olson also uses contradictory methods of applying Scripture; in one place saying that since the New Testaments church did not do "X" why should we? Then latter arguing that even though the Scriptures do not argue for governmental redistribution of wealth - Christian should support it. He makes some good points, but belabors them to the point of near incredulity.

He finishes the book with an argument for the role of women in leadership of churches in general and the position of pastor in specific. Here he ignores any biblical passages used by some to limit the position(s) to men. Instead he argues from an appeal to equality (which is poorly defined) and his own experience (even though elsewhere he maintains that experience must be secondary to Scripture). Here Olson relies too heavily on his subjective experience. It would have been much better had he engaged the Scriptures to advance his point.

So - after all is said and read I still recommend (the first-half of) the book. Even though the latter chapters become rather mediocre, Olson offers some very good challenges and alternatives to how we "do church" and how we are "Christians."
Shamefully politically biased  Sep 11, 2008
I can not match the succinct eloquence of Bill Wood's review of this book. I will thought bring to your attention a single phrase [page 130 in the chapter: Redistributing Wealth without Socialism] that supports the position that the author Roger Olsen has a political axe to grind and does it so very blatantly. That phrase is the author's definition of "free market system/ free enterprise system/capitalism" as being " economy driven by the desire to gain wealth by investing money in enterprises that will TAKE MONEY AWAY FROM PEOPLE by selling them products at a higher price than their actual cost..." [all caps mine]
I would ask the author if he can name where "people" can get a job from a poor person? If you don't make more than the cost of your product or service, then you will not exist. I held great hopes from the book, except I would prefered a title: "How to be a Conservative without being an Evangelical", but the politically infected book was shameful to the premise being advertised. Yep, read it to know what is being said, but use careful judgment in being guided by it.

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