Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Holy Jumpers

Author: William Kostlevy
Title: Holy Jumpers: Evangelicals and Radicals in Progressive Era America
Description: This is a history of a small sect known as the Metropolitan Church Association which flourished between 1900 and 1950.  
Writing style: Kostlevy combines attention to detail with general focus on the arc of the history of the sect, making for a very readable book. I believe it is a revision of his dissertation.
Audience: those interested in American church history.
Major ideas: It was really interesting to see that within just about 100 years, “evangelical” ideas can change so much. For example, this group had a contempt for the rich and strongly advocated a form of socialism, to the extent that they encouraged church members to sign over all assets to the church, and constituents lived communally. They were roughly contemporary with the beginning of the Pentecostal movement and the birth of the Holiness churches (i.e. Nazarenes), yet set themselves strongly apart from both of these groups, with whom they shared significant Holiness beliefs.
Wrap-up: Since my parents’ families were both members of this group (and this is how my parents met), I have a very personal interest in the MCA, which no doubt colored my reading of the book. 4/5*

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