by Mark Tooley
There have been several notable reviews of my new book Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. The first was by distinguished historian of religion in early America, Thomas Kidd of Baylor University, whose latest work is a biography of Patrick Henry. He concluded that politicized faith is a key ingredient in denominational decline. His review initially appeared in Patheos and later ran in The United Methodist Reporter. Here it is: http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Rise-and-Fall-of-American-Methodism-Thomas-Kidd-02-22-2012.html
Syndicated columnist and former Dallas Morning News editor William Murchison wrote a review for The Washington Times. Himself raised a Methodist and now an active Episcopal layman who served as a deputy to this year’s General Convention, Murchison concludes the Methodist penchant for political meddling is deep in the church’s DNA. Here’s his review: http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/apr/20/book-review-methodism-and-politics/?page=all#pagebreak.
The biographer of Methodist theologian Albert Outler as well as editor of Outler’s papers, Robert Parrot reviewed Methodism and Politics for Good News magazine. He generously ascribes the book’s detailed history to my years of eyewitness reporting about United Methodist events. Here’s his review: http://goodnewsmag.org/2012/09/25/a-review-of-mark-tooleys-methodism-and-politics-in-the-20th-century/.
Ray Nothstine of Acton Institute, himself a United Methodist graduate of Asbury Seminary, in his review, compared founding Bishop Francis Asbury’s non political vision for Methodism with the church’s recent decades of intense radicalism. Here’s his review: http://blog.acton.org/archives/29264-a-receding-voice-a-century-of-methodist-political-pronouncements.html.
In a somewhat negative review, former Presbyterian Church (USA) official Joseph Small in First Things faulted my book for not providing more analysis of the history or relating it to other Mainline denominations. He also wonders why it doesn’t cover historic black Methodist denominations. In fact, my book is exclusively about United Methodism and its predecessor bodies. He does at least conclude upbeat: “The strength of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century lies in its treasury of statements by bishops and ministers, denominational officials and professors, regional conferences and newsletters. Drawn primarily from daily newspapers, these voices give character and resonance to the flat official pronouncements that too often shape denominational histories.” The review was in the October issue and is only available to subscribers.
My book offers no critique of Methodism’s political witness; it just tells the story and allows readers to reach their own conclusions. I hope some liberal reviewers will give their reaction to this story. If you are a reviewer of whatever perspective, we will send you a review copy upon request. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.