George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father by Thomas S. Kidd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Two disclaimers as I begin this brief review.
First, I am a 'fan' of Thomas Kidd. I'm not certain as to how I discovered him, whether on the Gospel Coalition web site, Patheos' web site or in WORLD magazine. At any rate, I have read his other works on Patrick Henry, The Great Awakening and the Religious History of the American Revolution, and in so doing I found an historian who writes in an uncomplicated, straight forward style. that style is maintained through out this work.
Second, I am a Christian and I embrace much of Whitefield's theological perspective.
I often find the notes on the dust jacket of a book overstate the case. Not so here, so that all four comments were spot on. Words like "Unusual empathy and unusual comprehension," and "lucid, well-researched, and insightful" hit the nail on the head.
Professor Kidd presents Whitefield warts and all - sometimes combative, lacking in social graces with others and his wife, suffering a blind spot in relation to slavery,and yet media savvy before it became popular (Ben Franklin was his friend and printer).
Whitefield made 13 crossing of the Atlantic - a remarkable feat in and of itself. His part in The Great Awakening and his itinerating up and down the colonies probably had him in contact with more people that anyone else at the time. So he is justly called "America's Spiritual Founding Father." (p. 250) Whitefield also appears sympathetic to the rising patriot movement, but his main focus was the Gospel.
Professor Kidd's two aim in producing this work were to show "...Whitefield was a key figure in the first generation of Anglo-American evangelical Christianity," and to present a scholarly biography that "places him in the dynamic, fractious milieu of the early evangelical movement." He has succeeded in both!
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