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The Work We Have to Do: A History of Protestants in America (Religion in American Life) [Paperback]

By Mark A. Noll (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   184
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.24" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.55"
Weight:   0.52 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 8, 2002
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195154975  
EAN  9780195154979  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
A readable, far-reaching history of a multi-denominational, multi-regional, and multi-ethnic religious group, Protestants in America explores the physical and ideological roots of the denomination up to the present day, and traces the origins of American Protestants all the way back to the first English colony at Jamestown. The book covers their involvement in critical issues from temperance to the civil rights movement, the establishment of Protestant organizations like the American Bible Society and the Salvation Army, and the significant expansion of their ethnic base since the first African-American Protestant churches were built in the 1770s. Mark Noll follows their direct impact on American history--from the American Revolution to World War I and beyond--and peppers his account with profiles of leading Protestants, from Jonathan Edwards and Phillis Wheatley to Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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More About Mark A. Noll

Mark A. Noll Mark A. Noll (born 1946) is a historian specializing in the history of Christianity in the United States. He holds the position of Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Noll himself is a Reformed evangelical Christian, and in 2005 was named by Time Magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America.

Noll is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois (B.A, English), the University of Iowa (M.A., English), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A., Church History and Theology), and Vanderbilt University (Ph.D, History of Christianity). Before coming to Notre Dame he was on the faculty at Wheaton College, Illinois for twenty-seven years, where he taught in the departments of History and Theology as McManis Professor of Christian Thought. While at Wheaton, Noll also co-founded (with Nathan Hatch) and directed the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.

Noll is a prolific author and many of his books have earned considerable acclaim within the academic community. In particular, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, a book about anti-intellectual tendencies within the American evangelical movement, was widely covered in both religious and secular publications. He was awarded a National Humanities Medal in the Oval Office by President George W. Bush in 2006.

Noll, along with other historians such as George Marsden, Nathan O. Hatch, and David Bebbington, has greatly contributed to the world's understanding of evangelical convictions and attitudes, past and present. He has caused many scholars and lay people to realize more deeply the complications inherent in the question, "Is America a Christian nation?" In 1994, he co-signed Evangelicals and Catholics Together, an ecumenical document that expressed the need for greater cooperation between Evangelical and Catholic leaders in the United States.

Since the Fall of 2006, Noll has been a faculty member in Department of History at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He replaced the retiring George Marsden as Notre Dame's Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History.Noll stated that the move to Notre Dame has allowed him to concentrate on fewer subjects than his duties at Wheaton had allowed.

Mark A. Noll currently resides in the state of Illinois. Mark A. Noll was born in 1946.

Mark A. Noll has published or released items in the following series...
  1. IVP Classics
  2. Library of Religious Biography
  3. Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era
  4. Very Short Introductions

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Children's Books > Religions > Christianity > General   [2728  similar products]
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7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > General   [754  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Faith in a New Land  Dec 7, 2006
Given the rapidly changing cultural climate, it can be surprising to learn of the dominant position that conservative Protestantism held within the culture a century ago. By dominance I do not mean merely a position of influence within a political party as the "religious right" holds within the GOP today but the acceptance by Americans in general of the faith and morals embodied within Protestantism as foundational principles upon which to base their culture.

In The Work We Have to Do, historian Mark A. Noll recounts the role of Protestantism in shaping American society. Beginning with the migration of Protestant dissidents and later those sympathetic to the established Church of England, Noll does a marvelous job describing how various Protestant groups gained a foothold in the American colonies and their influence on the fledgling republic. Noll gives a vivid account of how the Protestant ethos became so inculturated within the nation that it might seem the line between being an American and being a Protestant became blurred.

Noll then turns to the period of Protestant dominance of the culture in the 19th century. A general optimism abounded and there was a sense that America was destined to play a central role in bringing the Christian faith and Christian culture to the world. This manifested itself in both missionary work and the involvement in voluntary societies designed to create a society in line with Christian truth. He then covers a period of successive trials as the Protestant consensus is threatened by immigration from Catholic Europe and the beginnings of modernist revisions to the Protestant view. This period is one of an interplay between struggles with new ideas and movements of great renewal

Noll then painst a picture of how Protestantism has faired in modern America. The picture is by no means monolithic as civil rights activists, foes of abortion, supporters of Israel, and advocates of traditional Christian morals all have a place. Protestantism, like America itself, has become more fragmented with liberal revisionists and conservsative evangelicals vying for supremacy.

Yet whatever the future holds both for America and Protestantism, it cannot be denied that this nation was for much of its life essentially Protestant. In giving a lively account of the hold Protestantism held on this nation and the residual influence it still exerts, Noll has shown how Christianity was at the very soul of America. For anyone interested in the history of American culture or the history of Christianity in America, The Work We Have to Do is essential reading.

Charles Wesley, brother to John, the founder of Methodism, wrote the words to this song in 1750; Charles Wesley wrote many hymns, the most well-known one being "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" which is sung every Easter in churches of various Protestant denominations. The lyrics are based on Leviticus 25:8-17 where G-d dictates to the levitical priests through Moses how the jubilee should be observed. The jubilee year, the fiftieth, was the year 'to proclaim liberty throughout all the land', slaves would be set free, the land to rest. The spirit of this time was to worship, to make the celebration holy, and especially G-d commands that 'ye shall not oppress one another'. On the day of atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month the trumpet would be blown.

Mark Noll explains in his preface that "the title for this book is taken from a prayer by Jonathan Edwards that he spoke in 1747 at the end of a funeral for his friend and student David Brainerd" who worked with American Indians in New England, disciplingteaching them about christianity, and was to be his son-in-law. Jonathan Edwards was educated at Yale, brought up in a Puritan household, was active in the revival movement in America known as "the Great Awakening". This small book is a synopsis of Protestantism in America from the colonies' earliest days to the present. The book reveals the great diversity of Protestant denominations, styles of worship, and the key leaders of Protestant America like Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglas. From Noll's narrative, you will understand how protestant beliefs and culture were impressed upon our country at various times and in various ways. As Noll's narrative ends, he states in his epilogue, "How can one generalize about Protestants in America?" The book was not quite what I expected, yet I was not surprised by the contents given that Noll is a Professor of History at Wheaton College. The front cover expresses in picture the essence of what Protestants of all persuasions do: go to church for fellowship and prayer, listen to the pastor's message based on scripture, participate in church activities. Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, made scripture and bible study the cornerstone of the Protestant expression of the Christian faith. Most of the information was not new to me since I was raised Protestant, was baptized three decades ago, and taught to respect other faiths as a part of my Scots-Irish American background. The book should interest anyone perplexed with Protestant denominations and ways which are as varied as the American populace today. In Noll's preface, he states "there can be no mistaking the importance of Protestant religion for the national history". I decided on the title for this review while fidgeting in my pew last Sunday when I visited a Methodist church. (I like to skim through the hymn books during the services just reading the words). I was planning on titling it 'Sound no trumpet' based on Christ's commands in Matthew 6:2 on how to give alms and how to pray; G-d spoke to me otherwise.

'Blow ye the trumpet, blow!/The gladly solemn sound/let all the nations know/to earth's remotest bound:
Jesus, our great high priest/hath full atonement made/ye weary spirits, rest/ye mournful souls, be glad:
Extol the Lamb of God/the all atoning Lamb/redemption in his blood/throughout the world proclaim.
Ye slaves of sin and hell/your liberty receive/and safe in Jesus dwell/and blest in Jesus live:
Ye who have sold for nought/your heritage above/shall have it back unbought/the gift of Jesus' love:
The gospel trumpet hear/the news of heavenly grace/and saved from earth, appear/before your Savior's face:
The year of jubilee is come!/The year of jubilee is come!/Return, ye ransomed sinners, home'
A Fun, Fascinating Read  Nov 23, 2003
This was a fun, fascinating little book to read. Although it may be short, this little book whets the appetite and leaves the reader wanting more. Mark Noll is one of the most well-known and well-respected scholars of Evangelicalism in the United States and handles his little project here quite well.

Noll breaks up the book into time periods, beginning with a bit about the Protestant Reformation before continuing with pre-1776 American Protestantism; he discusses the Civil War, the rise of so-called Fundamentalism, and ends with discussing secularization and other recent developments. The book is easy reading - one can read it in a few hours - and well worth taking the time to do so, especially in light of the continued presence of religion in American public life.

What I found most fascinating in this book was how American Protestantism groups so quickly divided into more groups because of a lack of government involvement. Whereas in Europe different churches came to be allied with the government of their region, this did not happen in the United States. Instead, a type of individualistic turn took place when Protestantism/s reached America's shores: if you didn't like how your church did it, you simply went off and started another one. Hence, in America there are tens of thousands of Protestant denominations that never existed in Europe.

If you have read Noll's work _The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind_, you will hear echoes of it in his analysis of what exactly Evangelicalism is (and, for that matter, isn't). He writes that Evangelicals have, for most of their history, been fairly skeptical of higher education and taking a more thoughtful approach to the faith; a type of American pragmatism exists within American Evangelicalism. Yet, Noll is also sympathetic (he himself is an Evangelical) and desires to correct various misperceptions about Evangelicalism that are widespread in the larger culture. Noll's corrective lenses are both helpful and informative.

Although it is short, I think this book is a really fantastic introduction into a subject with widespread influence: religious, cultural and political. For those that are interested, Noll includes a fairly substantial bibliography in the back of the book with a number of recommendations for futher reading. And, given the 60% discount that this is currently offering, this is probably the most informative $5.00 that you can spend right now.

Tough task, only moderately successful  Apr 10, 2003
It is a tough job to pull church history in America together into a short volume; one will always tend to leave things out. Noll does a decent job in selecting material, but the book suffers from poor writing. There seems to be no real organization to his chapters; they read as loose collections of ideas and paragraph biographies. If the book were reworked, it could be a valuable introduction.
Amazing Short Sweep of American Prostestants  Jan 8, 2003
How does one cover the history of Prostestants in America in but 133 pages?

Read how Noll pulls this off admirably in this fine text. He sweeps through using main emphases and figures that moved the history along.

His focus is fair from this reviewer's perspective, treating all areas with enthusiasm and interest as they play out their role in this unfolding history.

This is done in four main timeframes: 1607-1789, 1790-1865, 1866-1918, and 1918-. To supplement this there is an chronology, as well as bibiliography with reading suggestions.

Well done! A great resource to start one out on this topic.


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