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The Transformation of American ReligionThe Story of a Late-Twentieth-Century Awakening$
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Amanda Porterfield

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195131376

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195131371.001.0001

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The Liberation of Missionary Evangelicalism

The Liberation of Missionary Evangelicalism

(p.23) 1 The Liberation of Missionary Evangelicalism
The Transformation of American Religion

Amanda Porterfield (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

American enthusiasm for individual religious experience has often resulted in missionary outreach and social reform. Focusing on the Reformed Protestant tradition that helped shape American culture, this chapter shows how American Protestants in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries came to see benevolence as the chief manifestation of Christian virtue. The chapter also describes the criticism of missionary arrogance that developed within missionary circles in the early twentieth century, and the emergence belief that while education, economic assistance, healthcare, and other forms of philanthropy were appropriate Christian endeavors, attempts to destroy other religions were not. The chapter points to this development in missionary thinking, and to social gospel tradition in liberal American Protestantism more generally, as a precursor of the liberation theology promoted by Catholic activists in the late twentieth century.

Keywords:   American Protestants, benevolence, evangelicalism, liberation theology, missionary, philanthropy, Reformed Protestant, social gospel

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