It's hard to keep up with Randall Balmer, but this fall is especially frenetic. Oxford University Press just released a new, twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory (and the scholar who had his evangelical conversion take place at Word of Life Bible Institute and the other scholar who performed as Jesus there will both remain nameless). A special panel at the upcoming Conference on Faith and History will address the many publics of Mine Eyes (Saturday morning).
With Balmer, however, there is always something new to match something old. Last May, Basic Books released his Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter. Today, Elesha Coffman begins our three-part series of responses to the book. Look out in the next few weeks for the next two. (ejb)
To paraphrase Mark Noll, the scandal of the evangelical left is that there is not much of an evangelical left. It does exist, as David Swartz has recently and Brantley Gasaway will soon remind us. Still, most writing on the topic adopts a wistful tone, pondering what might have been (or might yet be) if evangelicals disentangled themselves from political conservatism. If only different voices had gained a wider hearing, especially in the 1970s. If only the money and the organizational prowess had tipped the other way.
Randall Balmer takes a step further in his spiritual biography of Jimmy Carter, Redeemer. He posits that there actually was a viable, coherent “progressive evangelical” tradition, but twentieth-century evangelicals betrayed it. Instead of what might have been, this approach begs the question, “Who are we talking about?”