This collection of essays explores the significance of practice in understanding American Protestant life. The authors are historians of American religion, practical theologians, and pastors and were the twelve principal researchers in a three-year collaborative project sponsored by the Lilly Endowment.
Profiling practices that range from Puritan devotional writing to twentieth-century prayer, from missionary tactics to African American ritual performance, these essays provide a unique historical perspective on how Protestants have lived their faith within and outside of the church and how practice has formed their identities and beliefs. Each chapter focuses on a different practice within a particular social and cultural context. The essays explore transformations in American religious culture from Puritan to Evangelical and Enlightenment sensibilities in New England, issues of mission, nationalism, and American empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, devotional practices in the flux of modern intellectual predicaments, and the claims of late-twentieth-century liberal Protestant pluralism.
Breaking new ground in ritual studies and cultural history, Practicing Protestants offers a distinctive history of American Protestant practice.