Recently, Thomas Bergler, a professor at Huntington University in Indiana, released a book in which he argues that American Christianity has been largely co-opted by youth movements during the latter part of the twentieth century. He has also summarized the main arguments in a piece for Christianity Today.
As a product of the Marsden-Noll “school,” Bergler’s arguments remain largely historical with some analysis in the final chapter of the book. His arguments have also received positive endorsements from other historians of American religion, such as John Turner who blogs at The Anxious Bench.
What Bergler attempts to do is track an important trend in twentieth-century evangelicalism (mostly) and its impact, positive and negative, on worship practices, doctrine, church structure, and other features of evangelical Christianity. The argument is sophisticated and should be taken seriously. I find much to agree with, and yet, there are some nagging suspicions I have and from which I cannot escape. My suspicions cause me to wonder about, in Paul Harvey’s words, the rest of the story. . . .