The best protestantism books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about protestantism and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

By Patrick Collinson,

Why this book?

Thirty years after its first publication, Patrick Collinson’s elegantly written account of how Protestantism transformed English society remains fresh, challenging and surprising. Focusing on art and culture, urban life, the family and ideas of nationhood, it persuasively argued that it makes more sense to see the Reformation as a drawn-out process rather than a dramatic ‘event’, and as one that was coming to fruition only in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. It is also a triumphant demonstration of how short books can punch above their weight.

From the list:

The best books on the English Reformation

Book cover of A Peaceful Conquest: Woodrow Wilson, Religion, and the New World Order

A Peaceful Conquest: Woodrow Wilson, Religion, and the New World Order

By Cara Lea Burnidge,

Why this book?

Although there is no shortage of books on the 28th president and his foreign policy—we even use “Wilsonian” as a shorthand for the embrace of idealism, liberal internationalism, and democratic capitalism in U.S. foreign relations—Burnidge’s work offers an exceptional exploration of how religion and religious ideas informed Wilson’s approach to world affairs. She sets her chronicle of Wilson’s life and spiritual development within the context of the broader religious history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and weaves in expert analysis of the relationship between Wilson’s Christianity, race, and racism in that era. This provides…

From the list:

The best books on the history of religion in U.S. foreign relations

Book cover of Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland: Religious Practice in Late Modernity

Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland: Religious Practice in Late Modernity

By Gladys Ganiel,

Why this book?

Why, from the 1990s, did the Irish Catholic consensus so suddenly disappear? And what might be the effect of this sudden-onset secularisation? This brilliant account of the recent revolution in Irish religion describes the effects of the clerical scandals that brought down a government, demoralised a denomination, and drove social change on a massive and structural scale. Ganiel shows how the older religious monopolies that did so much to shape the institutions and culture of Ireland, north and south, have given way to a much more fluid religious market, in which individuals can believe without belonging just as much as…

From the list:

The best books on the history of Christianity in Ireland

Book cover of The Most Dangerous Enemy (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles)

The Most Dangerous Enemy (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles)

By G. Lawrence, The Book Cover Machine (illustrator),

Why this book?

The third book of The Elizabeth of England Chronicles has Elizabeth finally becoming Queen of England and trying to unite a divided country. A Protestant queen surrounded by Catholic kings, all she has to do is marry well and secure the succession. Gemma Lawrence has a talent for developing convincing characters and evoking a compelling sense of time and place.

From the list:

The best historical fiction books about the Elizabethans

Book cover of Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China, 1857-1927

Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China, 1857-1927

By Ryan Dunch,

Why this book?

Fuzhou serves as a perfect microcosm for examining the rise of Christianity in China. It’s less familiar than Shanghai or Beijing and, as a result, this very accessible history book has a freshness to it. Like Bays, Ryan Dunch, a China scholar at the University of Alberta, is an academic who knows how to make history engaging. The story begins in 1857 after the forced opening of Fuzhou as a treaty port after the First Opium War, and ends with anti-western violence that roiled the city in 1927. I owe Dunch a debt of gratitude. Fuzhou was the birthplace of…

From the list:

The best books about the history of Christianity in China

Book cover of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America

Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America

By Matthew Avery Sutton,

Why this book?

Aimee Semple McPherson lived a trailblazing life as the founder of the Four-Square Gospel Pentecostal church in Los Angeles, the first woman to own a US radio station, and a captivating, theatrical preacher. The beauty of Sutton’s book is the way he shows how McPherson’s sexual charisma—as well as her nearly career-ending sexual scandals—enabled her to define herself as the embodiment of Christian virtue. Wearing white and preaching with props and scenery worthy of a Hollywood set, McPherson used a show business savvy to portray conservative Christianity as the bedrock of Americanism.

From the list:

The best books that show why sex matters to US history

Book cover of Words Upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study

Words Upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study

By James S. Bielo,

Why this book?

The most common kind of book club in America is a Bible study. And while lots and lots of people have opinions about how you should read the Bible, or who is doing it wrong, no one delves into how real readers read the sacred text like James Bielo.

An ethnographer who is interested in American religion, Bielo is a careful and kind observer, who does everything he can to understand what people are doing when they read the Bible together. He takes you with him and you’ll see the world differently because he did.

From the list:

The best books for reading about reading

Book cover of The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture

The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture

By Roxann Wheeler,

Why this book?

Roxanne Wheeler’s The Complexion of Race occupies an important place in both our libraries. Rare are the books that deal with the complexities of human complexions with such subtlety. Wheeler does not start off by assuming the existence of a monological or commonly shared understanding of race; she charts the numerous causal flows that produced the early-modern discussion of the human, including the “empire of climate,” natural history (physiology and anatomy), and the fact that the British (Protestant) way of life became the benchmark for measuring all things foreign. 

From the list:

The best books about race and the enlightenment

Book cover of Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue

Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue

By William A. Dyrness,

Why this book?

Possibly the most helpful book for those looking to engage both Art and the Church. In Visual Faith the reader will find a wonderful overview of art history from a Christian perspective, beginning with art in the Early Church and coming all the way up to Warhol, Pollock, and art today. There is also an entire chapter devoted to making and looking at art. If there was one book I’d give to people in my church who were interested in engaging with art, this would be it.

From the list:

The best books on art and Christianity

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