Hoosier Faiths: A History of Indiana's Churches and Religious Groups

By White, Joseph M. | The Catholic Historical Review, July 1997 | Go to article overview

Hoosier Faiths: A History of Indiana's Churches and Religious Groups


White, Joseph M., The Catholic Historical Review


Hoosier Faiths: A History of Indiana's Churches and Religious Groups. By L. C. Rudolph. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1995. Pp. xv, 710. $39.95.)

This massive volume results from the author's audacious effort, probably unprecedented, to survey the major religious traditions found in a single state. Through 700 double-columned pages, Rudolph provides fifty-three essays, most of which describe individual traditions with a summary of their history before treating Indiana developments."Narratives end," the author notes,"as a conversation or lecture might, when the basic identity of the group seems to be established and when some of its characteristic stories have been told." An essay's length is not always adjusted to a group's size. Denominations with limited membership but a complex history may have essays as substantial as those dealing with the influential Methodist and Catholic churches, whose combined membership claimed 40% of the state's religious adherents by 1990. With emphasis on each tradition's story, the author does not aim at a general interpretation of religion's role in shaping culture.

Though not known as a home to diverse groups, Indiana, as the volume reveals, has accommodated a wide range of religious expressions.The author starts with an essay on Indians, then moves to Methodists and Catholics.The stories of mainline Protestant denominations loom large in the state's nineteenth-century religious development. The essay on Christians," the book's longest, portrays Alexander Campbell, his movement, and its importance for Indiana, home to denominational headquarters of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Articles also appear on such antebellum movements as Rappites, Owenites, Shakers, Swedenborgians, and Rationalists.

For the twentieth century, the religious scene becomes more complex. Rudolph introduces movements that depart from mainline Protestantism with an overview essay on "Holiness and Pentecostal Development." Separate essays then follow on denominations within the latter traditions, of which several have importance to Indiana, location of denominational headquarters of the Wesleyan Church, Free Methodist Church, Church of God (Anderson), Missionary Church, United Brethren, and Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. …

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