10. Contested Authority: Evangelicalism as a Cultural System

Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority - A Tribute to the Work of Michael Jerryson - Margo Kitts

Julie Ingersoll [+-]
University of North Florida
Julie Ingersoll is Professor of Religious Studies and Religious Studies Program Coordinator at the University of North Florida. Her Ph.D. is from the University of California, Santa Barbara and teaches and writes about religion in American History and Culture, religion and politics and religion and violence.

Description

As scholars of religion wrote about white evangelicalism in the U.S. they too often defaulted to a definition of the movement put forth by historians who were themselves elite, white, male, evangelicals; policing the boundaries of their movement. As intellectual elites, their definition was almost entirely rooted in beliefs and functioned to legitimate their clam to the authority to delineate authenticity. The most influential formulation of this definition became known as the Bebbington Quadrilateral, which asserted that evangelicalism is characterized by four emphases: the bible, the cross, conversion, and activism. And while we can see all these emphases in the movement we call evangelicalism, nothing in the “Quadrilaterial” can account for why some 80% of white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump to be president, So, as a definition of the movement, it seems lacking. Instead, as this paper will argue, there are other key dimensions to this movement that are much more salient, and that this movement is best understood when we see it in cultural terms. This paper will explore one aspect of a cultural definition of (white) evangelicalism; a shared temperament that rests on an adversarial understanding of themselves in relationship to “the world.” It will show how, rather than being based in a seemingly fixed creedal formulation, evangelicalism is malleable and in a never ending process of social construction.

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Citation

Ingersoll, Julie. 10. Contested Authority: Evangelicalism as a Cultural System. Buddhist Violence and Religious Authority - A Tribute to the Work of Michael Jerryson. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2021. ISBN 9780000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40730. Date accessed: 13 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40730. Sep 2021

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