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The New Measures


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Table of Contents

The Flyer: a preface for theologians, ethicists, historians, and homileticians; The Fugleman: a brief drill in methodology; 1. Some measures are plainly necessary; 2. You must have something new; 3. Sinners bound to change their own hearts; 4. Whosoever will; 5. The measure of self.

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This 2007 book debates about religion and democracy through a cultural history of nineteenth-century revival practice.


Review of the hardback: 'Democracy can be interpreted by abstract theories but it is lived and practiced by people in specific times and places. Ted Smith's The New Measures is a thought-provoking and fascinating analysis of specific practices of the intersection of American democracy and Christianity. Smith's text joins recent debates in theology and ethics about democracy but adds a historical depth and theoretical specificity that should change the nature as well as the purpose of just debates. And Smith's own theological ability to narrate our historical practices through an eschatological lens allows us to avoid the tired and unsatisfying progress and decline theories of both democracy and Christianity. Ted retrieves the venerable tradition of H. Richard Niebuhr, Reinhold Niebuhr and W. E. B. Dubois in combing history, theology and ethics to make democracy and Christianity still a task before us.' Rebecca Chopp, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, President, Colgate University
Review of the hardback: 'Who could have dreamed that one could produce a book drawing such figures as the German philosopher Walter Benjamin and the nineteenth-century revivalist Charles Finney into a common arena within which the reader can encounter both the subtle insights of critical theory and the colorful details of American popular religion? Smith subjects American preaching - and by extension American religious culture - to a 'critique from within' by delving into tensions and ironies that expose hidden assumptions and subvert cultural certitudes but also hint at resolutions hovering just beyond our grasp. This is a genuinely original contribution to American history, theology, and critical thought.' E. Brooks Holifield, Charles Howard Candler Professor, Emory University
Review of the hardback: 'In both method and message, The New Measures: A Theological History of Democratic Practice is a pivotal book in the field of homiletics. Ingeniously, in correlation with six aspects of contemporary social criticism, Smith both 'mortifies' and 'redeems' six fundamental characteristics of revival-influenced preaching in North America: effectiveness, novelty, decision, equality, celebrity, and illustration. From the ashes of critique Smith helps preachers discover profound ethical, theological, and homiletical wisdom for preaching today. A 'must-read' book. John S. McClure, Professor of Homiletics, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
Review of the hardback: 'Smith offers a thoughtful reading of the revivalist techniques of the Second Great Awakening and their effects on democratic life.' The Christian Century

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