Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite.

Author:Linder, Robert D.
Position:Book review
 
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Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. By D. Michael Lindsay. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 332 pp. $24.95.

Faith in the Halls of Power is a powerful book that will challenge every serious scholar and every professing Christian who reads it, especially those evangelical Christians who fall into the category of "the American elite." In any case, there is far more in this important study than any brief review can convey.

D. Michael Lindsay, a sociologist at Rice University, sets out to take the reader inside the world of today's evangelical elite by means of 360 semi-structured interviews of women and men identified as societal leaders. According to Lindsay, evangelicals are those Christians who emphasize the centrality of a personal relationship with Christ and who stress individualism, relationalism, and serious religious devotion. Since from 40 to 50 percent of U.S. adults claim to be evangelicals, this is an important segment of the American population.

The overwhelming majority of Lindsay's interviewees belonged to the worlds of politics, academia, entertainment, and business. Most of them were educated in very selective institutions of higher learning such as Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Oxford, Penn, Prinecton, Stanford, and Yale. Moreover, most of them know each other in some capacity. Therefore, they form a significant evangelical network that stretches across the nation.

However, it is not a monolithie community except perhaps in its devotion to Christ and his gospel. Evangelicalites seem to share a common culture based on the Bible and the books of C. S. Lewis. Moreover, they appear to be separated to some degree from the more populist mainstream of current evangelicalism. But the most striking met about Lindsay's work is that it revealed that this evangelical elite lives in a world of conscious, double-edged tension. They are not entirely comfortable as they move among their secular colleagues who do not share their faith or among their fellow believers in the more populist evangelical subculture who do share their basle beliefs. In particular, they are ill at ease among their own people because of differences over lifestyle issues, such as what it means to be "separated from the world." As Lindsay observed, "The evangelical subculture is highly visible at the grassroots level, but many of the leaders I interviewed do not identify with it. In fact, they actively seek to distance...

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