Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925

By George M. Marsden | Go to book overview

the power of the dynamo. "God's power is like the Niagara current," said Dixon. "Faith is the connecting wire between the battery of God's power and the hearts of men." 39 The age demanded action, not contemplation. Unlike the holiness movement of the Civil War era, this newer Reformed holiness movement was male-dominated and masculinity was equated with power and action. 40 A century of evangelical activism had provided channels for such action. Speakers at both conferences stressed that the church had many good programs, but not enough real power behind them. They envisioned a wide-spread application of the renewed power. Especially at the 1894 conference the speakers emphasized the importance of the Spirit's power for service in a host of evangelical activities—missions, evangelism, Sunday-school work, young peoples' work, church administration, city evangelism, institutional churches, and rescue missions. 41


IX. The Social Dimensions of Holiness

Dispensationalist and Keswick teachings were two sides of the same movement; yet it is important to bear in mind that the movement had more than two sides. Arthur T. Pierson, prominent in both sub-movements, made this clear in Forward Movements of the Last Half Century, his end-of-century review of evangelical progress. Pierson gave special prominence to the holiness revival, especially of the Keswick variety, and ended with a brief account of premillennialism. But in between he devoted hundreds of pages to a wide variety of "philanthropic, missionary and spiritual movements" including rescue missions, city evangelization, orphanage work, student and young peoples' movements, women's work, Bible schools, missions of all kinds, evangelism among the specially needy, efforts for church unity, medical missions, "divine healing," and increased prayer and spiritual life. 1 In 1900 the offensive against liberalism was not yet noted as a distinct movement by Pierson. When it did arise, the anti-liberal movement was part of these developments, to which it gave for a time a new "fundamentalist" direction. In the meantime, the holiness emphasis seems to have been the most basic, providing the dynamic for almost every other aspect of the movement.

The "power for service" of this holiness teaching meant first of all verbal evangelism; yet in the 1890s it often meant social work among the poor as well. This was evident at the 1894 conference held in Brooklyn on "The Holy Spirit in Life and Service." The principal emphasis was not on social concerns, but they were certainly an integral part of the evangelical program.

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