Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Randall Herbert Balmer  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction Other

Audience: Adult; Adult;

Born: 1954

-- Website --
-- Randall Herbert Balmer on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Dr. Balmer received his Bachlor's Degree from Trinity College in Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Dr. Randall Herbert Balmer is an author, professor of American religious history and an Episcopal Priest. He was nominated for an Emmy for script-writing and hosting the three-part PBS documentary "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory," based on his book with the same title.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

ISBN: 0807077119

Beacon Press. 2000

The thirteen colonies were a haven for evangelicals of all stripes. This authoritative history of the oldest religious tradition in the U.S. tells how evangelicalism arose from our political origins, recounts many long-forgotten religious movements, and shows how the evangelical Christian movements of today were informed by history and the struggle for the American Christian soul.

"Randall Balmer is an astute interpreter of America's deep currents of evangelical Christian piety."
-Diana Eck, author of Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras

Religion in Twentieth Century America (Religion in American Life)
ISBN: 0195112954

Oxford University Press. 2001

Covering Protestant, Hindu, Jewish, New Age, Mormon, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, and many other faiths, Religion in Twentieth Century America is a dynamic look at religion in America through two World Wars, vast industrialization, the civil rights movement, and massive immigration. Included are crucial moments, such as:
* The appointment of Louis Brandeis, a Jew, to the U.S. Supreme Court
* The contentious court trial of John T. Scopes, which dramatized the debate over Darwinism
* The extraordinary rise of evangelist Billy Graham at mid-century
* The Presbyterian church's decision to ordain women
*The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
*The federal government's decision to attack the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.
With a chronology, index, and suggestions for further reading following, these momentous events and others are tied together in an absorbing narrative in Religion in Twentieth Century America, providing an illuminating guide to the complex issues of 21st-century religion.

Growing Pains: Learning to Love My Father's Faith
ISBN: 1587430185

Brazos Pr. 2001

Offers guidance to those raising children in a Christian home, with narrative essays exploring the challenges of handing down faith from one generation to the next.

A Perfect Babel of Confusion: Dutch Religion and English Culture in the Middle Colonies (Religion in America)
ISBN: 0195152654

Oxford University Press. 2002

Examining the interaction of the Dutch and the English in colonial New York and New Jersey, this study charts the decline of European culture in North America. Balmer argues that the combination of political intrigue, English cultural imperialism, and internal socio-economic tensions eventually drove the Dutch away from their hereditary customs, language, and culture. He shows how this process, which played itself out most visibly and poignantly in the Dutch Reformed Church between 1664 and the American Revolution, illustrates the difficulty of maintaining non-English cultures and institutions in an increasingly English world. A Perfect Babel of Confusion redresses some of the historiographical neglect of the Middle Colonies and, in the process, sheds new light on Dutch colonial culture.

Protestantism in America
ISBN: 0231111304

Columbia University Press. 2002

As America has become more pluralistic, Protestantism, with its long roots in American history and culture, has hardly remained static. This finely crafted portrait of a remarkably complex group of Christian denominations describes Protestantism's history, constituent subgroups and their activities, and the way in which its dialectic with American culture has shaped such facets of the wider society as healthcare, welfare, labor relations, gender roles, and political discourse.

Part I provides an introduction to the religion's essential beliefs, a brief history, and a taxonomy of its primary American varieties. Part II shows the diversity of the tradition with vivid accounts of life and worship in a variety of mainline and evangelical churches. Part III explores the vexed relationship Protestantism maintains with critical social issues, including homosexuality, feminism, and social justice. The appendices include biographical sketches of notable Protestant leaders, a chronology, a glossary, and an annotated list of resources for further study.

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America
ISBN: 0195300467

Oxford University Press. 2006

Randall Balmer's Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory is an insightful and engaging journey into the world of conservative Christians in America. Originally published fifteen years ago and the basis for an award-winning PBS documentary, this timely new edition arrives just as recent elections have left an ever-growing number of secular Americans wondering exactly how the other half thinks.
From Oregon to Florida, and from Texas to North Dakota, Balmer offers an immensely readable tour of the highways and byways of American evangelicalism. We visit a revival meeting in Florida, an Indian reservation in the Dakotas, a trade show for Christian booksellers, and a fundamentalist Bible camp in the Adirondacks.
For this fourth edition, Balmer adds two chapters, one on the phenomenally popular "Painter of Light," Thomas Kinkade, and one on Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life. Through the eyes of these and other people Balmer meets on his journeys, we arrive at a more accurate and balanced understanding of an abiding tradition that, as the author argues, is both rich in theological insights and mired in contradictions. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory offers readers a genuine insight into the appeal that the evangelicals movement holds for thousands of Americans.

Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts Faith and Threatens America
ISBN: 0465005209

Basic Books. 2007

For much of American history, evangelicalism was aligned with progressive political causes-the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, and public education. But contemporary conservative activists have defaulted on this majestic legacy, embracing instead an agenda virtually indistinguishable from the Republican Party platform. How has evangelical Christianity become so entrenched in partisan politics? Randall Balmer, an evangelical Christian and a historian of American religion, deftly combines ethnographic research, theological reflections, and historical context to examine the nature of the Religious Right today-and offers a rallying cry for liberal Christians to reclaim the noble traditions of their faith.

God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush
ISBN: 0060872586

HarperOne. 2009

How did we go from John F. Kennedy declaring that religion should play no role in the elections to Bush saying, "I believe that God wants me to be president"?

Historian Randall Balmer takes us on a tour of presidential religiosity in the last half of the twentieth century—from Kennedy's 1960 speech that proposed an almost absolute wall between American political and religious life to the soft religiosity of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society from Richard Nixon's manipulation of religion to fit his own needs to Gerald Ford's quiet stoicism from Jimmy Carter's introduction of evangelicalism into the mainstream to Ronald Reagan's co-option of the same group from Bill Clinton's covert way of turning religion into a non-issue to George W. Bush's overt Christian messages, Balmer reveals the role religion has played in the personal and political lives of these American presidents.

Americans were once content to disregard religion as a criterion for voting, as in most of the modern presidential elections before Jimmy Carter.But today's voters have come to expect candidates to fully disclose their religious views and to deeply illustrate their personal relationship to the Almighty. God in the White House explores the paradox of Americans' expectation that presidents should simultaneously trumpet their religious views and relationship to God while supporting the separation of church and state. Balmer tells the story of the politicization of religion in the last half of the twentieth century, as well as the "religionization" of our politics. He reflects on the implications of this shift, which have reverberated in both our religious and political worlds, and offers a new lens through which to see not only these extraordinary individuals, but also our current political situation.

The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond
ISBN: 1602582432

Baylor University Press. 2010

"Four turning points. Four critical junctures in the formation of American evangelicalism. Four times when, in Robert Frost's memorable words, 'two roads diverged in a yellow wood.' Each of these junctures - the transition from Calvinist to Arminian theology in the embrace of revivalism, the shift from postmillennialism to premillennialism, the retreat into a subculture, and the rise of the Religious Right - invites counterfactual speculation. What if evangelicals had gone another way, had taken a different road back there in Robert Frost's woods? Might history have been different? Might evangelicals had been more faithful to the gospel they espouse had they chosen a different course?"

―excerpted from the Introduction

With impressively clear prose and a superb command of history, best-selling author Randall Balmer offers a spirited history of evangelical Christianity in the United States. Effortlessly situating developments in evangelicalism in their wider historical context, he demonstrates the ways American social and cultural settings influenced the course of the evangelical tradition. By revealing the four key moments in the movement's history, he ably demonstrates how American Evangelicalism is truly American. Concluding with a manifesto directing where evangelicalism must go from here forth, Balmer's The Making of Evangelicalism will interest every reader―evangelical, mainline, secular―who wants to better understand evangelicals today.

Religion in American Life: A Short History
ISBN: 0199832692

Oxford University Press. 2011

"Quite ambitious, tracing religion in the United States from European colonization up to the 21st century.... The writing is strong throughout."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"One can hardly do better than Religion in American Life.... A good read, especially for the uninitiated. The initiated might also read it for its felicity of narrative and the moments of illumination that fine scholars can inject even into stories we have all heard before. Read it."--Church History

This new edition of Religion in American Life, written by three of the country's most eminent historians of religion, offers a superb overview that spans four centuries, illuminating the rich spiritual heritage central to nearly every event in our nation's history. Beginning with the state of religious affairs in both the Old and New Worlds on the eve of colonization and continuing through to the present, the book covers all the major American religious groups, from Protestants, Jews, and Catholics to Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Buddhists, and New Age believers. Revised and updated, the book includes expanded treatment of religion during the Great Depression, of the religious influences on the civil rights movement, and of utopian groups in the 19th century, and it now covers the role of religion during the 2008 presidential election, observing how completely religion has entered American politics.

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