Evangelicals and Culture

By Doreen M. Rosman

A study of the society and culture of early nineteenth-century British evangelicalism, challenging the stereotype that evangelicals were anti-intellectual.

ISBN: 9780227680346


Nineteenth-century evangelicals have often been dismissed as anti-intellectual and philistine. This book draws on periodicals, memoirs and letters to discover how far this was true of British evangelicals between 1790 and 1833. It examines their leisure pursuits along with their enjoyment of art, music, literature, and study, and concludes that they shared the thought and taste of their contemporaries to a far greater extent than is always acknowledged. What is more, their theology encouraged such activities.

Evangelicals regarded recreations which engaged the mind, or which could be pursued within the safety of the home, as more concordant with spirituality than ‘sensual’ or ‘worldly’ pleasures. Nevertheless, their faith did militate against culture and learning. Some evangelicals dismissed all nonreligious pursuits as ‘vanity’, since their deep-rooted otherworldliness made them suspicious of anything which did not contribute to eternal well-being. A new generation adopted a more rigid attitude to the Bible, which made them unwilling to examine new ideas. In the last resort, even the most cultured evangelicals were unable to reconcile their delight in the arts with their world-denying theology.

Scholars and students will benefit from this scholarly work which illuminates the study of religion, literature, and culture of the nineteenth century.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Doreen Rosman taught history at the University of Kent, UK, from 1974 to 2001. She is the author of The Evolution of the English Churches 1500-2000 (2003).


Foreword by David Bebbington

1. The Story of Evangelicalism 1790-1833
2. The Theology of Evangelicalism
3. Faith and Fashion
4. Faith and Family Life
5. Faith and Fun
6. Faith and Harmony
7. Faith and the Fine Arts
8. Faith and Fancy
9. Faith and Thought



Endorsements and Reviews

Doreen Rosman’s book … bears testimony to the eagerness of evangelicals to join in cultural affairs. … It goes a long way towards explaining the permeation of nineteenth-century culture by evangelical values.
David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling

This book’s essence is to challenge the allegation of philistinism against nineteenth century evangelicals, focussing particularly on the years 1790-1830. … it was interesting to discover the attitudes that they adopt towards their contemporary culture, and the distinctive contributions that some of them made.
Peter Murcott, in English Churchman, 21-28 September 2012

Although in the intervening decades scholars have worked and published in different fields, this still offers an overview which is otherwise hard to find, and for anyone wanting a handle on how culture and religion related in the years before Victoria this is indispensable reading.
Peter S. Forsaith, in Wesley and Methodist Studies, Vol 4, 2012

Whilst the bibliography has been updated and there are stylistic adjustments, the content and argument of the second edition are unchanged from the original and thus continue to provide an invaluable insight into the Evangelical mind. It is to be hoped that this new edition of Roman’s work will reach the wider public that its wisdom has always deserved.
John Briggs, in Baptist Quarterly, Vol 45, April 2013

[Evangelicals and Culture] is to be commended on two grounds: as an excellent introduction to an important aspect of a movement in the life of the churches at a critical moment; and, at the same time, pointing up some of the surprising echoes to be found with our contemporary debates which can be given a fresh perspective in the light of history.
Paul Ballard, in Theological Book Review, Vol 24, No 2

If one must understand the past to understand the present, then Evangelicals, and those interested in learning about Evangelicals, should read this text … [Rosman’s] discussion of early Evangelicals is instructive for contemporary Evangelicals to understand why they continue to struggle with the cultural question of what constitutes ‘worldliness’.
Stephen M. Vantassel, in Evangelical Quarterly, Vol 86, No 1

Readers will be impressed with the sharp observations and careful scholarship of Rosman … This is a thoughtful and well crafted book, which broadens our views of evangelicalism.
Martyn Percy, in Anvil, Vol 30, Issue 1

Seldom has the reissue of a scholarly work been so justified … the issues canvassed by the author are still very much alive.
John A. Moses, in Journal of Religious History

These examples illustrate the breadth of Evangelicalism’s engagement with culture. The greatest treasure here is a robust interaction with a variety of primary sources. … the vivid portrayal of early nineteenth century Evangelicalism provides an enlightening perspective to anyone interested in Christian history.
Thomas Breimaier, in Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, Vol 33, No 1