Methodism: Empire of the Spirit

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Yale University Press, 2005 - Religion - 278 pages

The emergence of Methodism was arguably the most significant transformation of Protestant Christianity since the Reformation. This book explores the rise of Methodism from its unpromising origins as a religious society within the Church of England in the 1730s to a major international religious movement by the 1880s. During that period Methodism refashioned the old denominational order in the British Isles, became the largest religious denomination in the United States, and gave rise to the most dynamic world missionary movement of the nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, Methodism had circled the globe and was poised to become one of the fastest-growing religious traditions in the modern world.

David Hempton, a preeminent authority on the history of Methodism, digs beneath the hard surface of institutional expansion to get to the heart of the movement as a dynamic and living faith tradition. Methodism was a movement of discipline and sobriety, but also of ecstasy and enthusiasm. A noisy, restless, and emotional tradition, Methodism fundamentally reshaped British and American culture in the age of industrialization, democratization, and the rise of empire.


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User Review  - revliz - LibraryThing

It took me a little while to shift gears to read this book, which, while well-written, isn't designed for a very low-brow audience. BUT interesting and relevant discussion of the growth of a religious way, its changes, the whys and wherefores. Read full review


Methods and Methodism
One Competition and Symbiosis
Two Enlightenment and Enthusiasm
Three The Medium and the Message
Four Opposition and Conflict
Five Money and Power
Six Boundaries and Margins
Seven Mapping and Mission
Eight Consolidation and Decline
Nine Methodisms Rise and Fall
Methodist Membership and Rates of Change United States and United Kingdom
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About the author (2005)

David Hempton is University Professor at Boston University, where he directs the university’s program in the History of Christianity. His previous books include Methodism and Politics in British Society, 1750–1850, which won the Whitfield Prize of the Royal Historical Society; Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland; and The Religion of the People: Methodism and Popular Religion, c.1750–1900.

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