Reviews for The Kingdom, The Power, And The Glory

by Tim Alberta

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An exploration of the changing face of American evangelicalism through the past several decades. Alberta, a staff writer for the Atlantic and author of American Carnage, describes the evangelical church as the product of changing times, with various factions of American Protestantism “amalgamating under a shared, if loosely defined, label: ‘evangelicals,’” in the early 1970s. At the time, evangelicals were poised to have a major role in shaping American culture. However, Alberta shows that what was meant as a spiritual movement built around shared values and goals for spreading the gospel soon split apart through political involvement, especially due to the influence of a cadre of charismatic church leaders. The author recognizes two particular periods of cultural turmoil, each of which ushered in the leadership of an unlikely American president. First was the Carter administration, which caused many evangelicals to seriously engage in politics for the first time, resulting in the election of Reagan. Second was the Obama era, marked by expansive cultural changes that brought about “a sudden onset of dread” among the evangelical base. The result was the rise of Trump. Alberta builds his study around interviews with a number of people central to—or at least privy to—the changes in evangelicalism over time. The topic is deeply personal to the author, whose father was a conservative (but largely apolitical) Presbyterian pastor. Alberta lionizes his father while criticizing most of his father’s friends for allowing politics to influence their faith life. “The crisis of American evangelicalism,” the author writes, “comes down to an obsession with…worldly identity.” The author sees this obsession as having weakened Christianity in the United States. Regarding the term evangelical, he believes that today, most non-religious people “are completely and categorically repelled by that word.” Sometimes overly personal yet well researched and comprehensive. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.