Book Review: Doctrine and Race

Mathews, Mary Beth Swetnam. Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism Between the Wars. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2017. 157pp.

Summary

The basic thesis of Doctrine and Race is that during the interwar period (c. 1920-1940), which was dominated by the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, African-American Christians largely adhered to fundamentalist doctrine but adapted modernist views of social justice and race relations. To support this thesis, Mathews shows that the constructs of “fundamentalism” and “modernism” were “racialized term[s]” (7). The category of fundamentalism was created and defined by white Christians, and modernism was also a primarily white phenomenon. Therefore, African-American churches do not fit this binary, so the polarity of fundamentalism-modernism is an inadequate lens through which to view African-American churches during this period.

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