The Believable Futures of American Protestantism

Neuhaus, Richard John, ed. The Believable Futures of American Protestantism. Essays by Thomas Sieger Derr, James Davison Hunter, Thomas C. Oden, and Timothy L. Smith; and “The Story of an Encounter,” by Paul T. Stallsworth. Encounter Series 7. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, in cooperation with The Rockford Institute Center on Religion and Society, 1988.

The Believable Futures of American Protestantism contains the papers and proceedings of a major conference by the same name on Protestantism in America, sponsored by the Rockford Institute’s Center on Religion and Society, December 1-2, 1986 at the Princeton Club of New York. The book’s four essays represent the conference’s major focus papers: “Evangelical Christianity and American Culture,” by Timothy L. Smith (Johns Hopkins University), which explores pluralism and moral transformation in Protestant history; “American Protestantism: Sorting Out the Present, Looking toward the Future,” by James Davison Hunter (University of Virginia), providing sociological perspective on the cultural struggle between religious “orthodoxy” and “progressivism”; “Continuity and Change in Mainline Protestantism,” by Thomas Sieger Derr (Smith College), which offers an interpretation and defense of the mainline Protestant position; and “Toward a Theologically Informed Renewal of American Protestantism: Propositions for Debate Attested by Classical Arguments,” by Thomas C. Oden (Drew University), calling Protestantism to a “New Reformation” based on the classical Christian tradition. Paul Stallsworth’s “The Story of an Encounter” concludes the book with a narration of the dialogue that took place among the conference’s thirty participants in response to the papers as well as to Richard John Neuhaus’ book, The Naked Public Square.