Teaching a Class on American Evangelicalism

The Equipping for Ministry wing of the Brethren in Christ Church has recently invited me to teach a course on American evangelical history as part of their Directed Study Program curriculum. (It will be one of several elective courses offered to students.) I’ve worked up a syllabus that has been approved in principle for the program, but now I’m curious: What am I missing?

Here’s the course description currently attached to the syllabus:

In this course, students will examine the history of American evangelicalism from the colonial period to the present, with an eye toward better understanding this complex religious tradition. Attention will also be paid toward related movements like Pentecostalism and fundamentalism. Through guided readings and writing assignments, students will analyze evangelicalism as a social and cultural movement, paying particular attention to issues of gender, race, and political involvement. Most importantly, students will consider how this movement has shaped the contemporary Brethren in Christ Church—and how, in turn, the Brethren in Christ have shaped this movement.

I do this in three sections. The first section offers an overview of American evangelical history from the First Great Awakening to the present. The second focuses on themes pertinent to American evangelical history: End Times and politics. The third reviews the intersections of American evangelicalism and the Brethren in Christ Church, beginning with the Pietist revivals of the eighteenth century and moving into the fundamentalist, neo-evangelical, and Pentecostal movements of the late twentieth century.

I’m planning to use two books: Douglas Sweeney’s The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement and Barry Hankins’ American Evangelicalism: A Contemporary History of a Mainstream Religious Movement. Both provide a useful overview of evangelical history and theology that is both readable and accessible to a non-historian/non-theologian.

So, readers: What am I missing? What would you expect from a course on evangelicalism? What knowledge would you want to walk away with? What readings, viewings, and assignments would be most engaging to you?


About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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2 Responses to Teaching a Class on American Evangelicalism

  1. Greg Starr says:

    I don’t have any suggestions for you, Devin, but I am very glad to hear that you are joining the DSP teaching team! Your work on evangelicalism and the BIC is so necessary and so timely. Thank you!

  2. dorothy gish says:

    Great idea, Devin. I’m sure that those taking the course will be both blest and challenged by it. Personally, I am delighted that you will be part of our great DSP faculty.

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