The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism: How the Evangelical Battle over the End Times Shaped a Nation

Eerdmans. May 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780802879226. $29.99. REL
Terms such as dispensationalism, premillennialism, the Scofield Reference Bible, and rapture theology can seem like the esoteric jargon of fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. However, historian Hummel (Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison; Covenant Brothers: Evangelicals, Jews, and U.S.-Israeli Relations) claims that these concepts have been influential far beyond any theological niche and deserve a closer look. What Hummel excels at in this work is placing these ideas in a meaningful context alongside the events, people, and places that shaped them. He creates an engrossing narrative with compelling details. Each chapter dovetails into the next, often glancing back to capture different aspects of the historical setting as the narrative moves from the 1830s in Ireland toward an end very close to the present, with references to QAnon and the Avengers movies. There is much explanatory power and depth to the way the author traces how these religious concepts have influenced movements, politics, and pop culture.
VERDICT This is an exceptional resource for readers looking to understand conservative Christianity. The book also illuminates much of U.S. religious history in general.
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