A Transforming Faith: Explorations of Twentieth-Century American Evangelicalism

Watt, David Harrington. A Transforming Faith: Explorations of Twentieth-Century American Evangelicalism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991.

David Harrington Watt writes A Transforming Faith to probe some of the major changes which took place in American evangelicalism between 1925 and 1975. Approaching his analysis from the perspective of hegemony or power, Watt specifically investigates the continuities and discontinuities in the ways evangelicals related to politics, the private and public spheres, feminism and counterfeminism, and modern psychology during this fifty year period. He finds that evangelicalism transitioned from representing the dominant culture throughout the 19th century to being an important American subculture in the 20th century following the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s. His book draws on the popular literature of evangelicalism to explore how American fundamentalists and evangelicals interacted with the larger American culture, sought to (re)establish hegemony in a time of rapid change, and adapted to the different socio-cultural climate of the new era. The book’s appendix discusses two primary ways scholars define evangelicalism, with Watt favoring the second definition and its (metaphorical) interpretation of evangelicalism as a denomination within conservative Protestantism consisting of its own network of Protestant leaders, organizations and associations.