Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Evangelicalism in the South

A hearty congratulations is in order for Sam Smith, whose book, A Cautious Enthusiasm: Mystical Piety and Evangelicalism in Colonial South Carolina comes out on February 15. There is very little written on eighteenth-century evangelicalism in the South, and so Sam's book is a welcome contribution to scholarship in this field. Besides filling a much-needed gap in the history of evangelicalism in the South, Sam's book also alerts us to the influence of Catholic mysticism on evangelicals in the Low Country, a topic that builds on the thesis of the late W. R. Ward's Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670-1789.

Sam's book should be celebrated, not only for its scholarship on a neglected subject, but also for the fact that he completed A Cautious Enthusiasm while teaching full-time at Liberty University (the normal teaching load for is a 5/5--four undergraduate courses of 120+ students in each section, plus a graduate course each semester), heading up the graduate studies program in the history department, supervising student theses, attending required regular weekly chapel services, and participating in committee work. It would take a lot of dedication, hard work, and focus to produce a monograph with that work load.

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