Between the Times: The Travail of the Protestant Establishment in America, 1900-1960

Hutchison, William R. Between the Times: The Travail of the Protestant Establishment in America, 1900-1960. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Between the Times, edited by William R. Hutchison of Harvard Divinity School, interprets the development of mainstream American Protestantism during the first six decades of the 20th century and the transitions it experienced as society moved from “Protestant” to “pluralist” America. The authors work from the premise that at the beginning of the century an identifiable Protestant “establishment” of seven denominations along with a definite network of leaders existed within American Protestantism. The denominations include American (Northern) Baptists, Congregationalists, Disciples, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, and United Lutherans. Hutchison and his colleagues contend that during this period non-mainstream and non-Protestant challenges forced the “establishment” to rethink its supposed God-given guardianship over society. They show that, by the end of the period, Protestantism could no longer—nor indeed desired any longer—to set the moral agenda for the nation. <p> Thirteen essays by twelve scholars in American religious history comprise the book. Divided into six large subsections, the book treats the meaning of Protestantism as establishment (I); the traditional areas of Protestant influence in American society (II); the establishment’s approach to Protestant ecumenism and social reform during this period (III); challenges by women, Black Americans, Catholics and Jews as establishment “outsiders” (IV); confrontations with secularization, religious pluralism and the “new evangelicalism” (V); and a concluding essay on mainstream Protestantism’s “discovery” of pluralist America.

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Harvard Divinity School.
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