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Guaranteed Pure

Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Guaranteed Pure
    Book Description:

    American evangelicalism has long walked hand in hand with modern consumer capitalism. Timothy Gloege shows us why, through an engaging story about God and big business at the Moody Bible Institute. Founded in Chicago by shoe-salesman-turned-revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody in 1889, the institute became a center of fundamentalism under the guidance of the innovative promoter and president of Quaker Oats, Henry Crowell. Gloege explores the framework for understanding humanity shared by these business and evangelical leaders, whose perspectives clearly differed from those underlying modern scientific theories. At the core of their "corporate evangelical" framework was a modern individualism understood primarily in terms of economic relations.Conservative evangelicalism and modern business grew symbiotically, transforming the ways that Americans worshipped, worked, and consumed. Gilded Age evangelicals initially understood themselves primarily as new "Christian workers--employees of God guided by their divine contract, the Bible. But when these ideas were put to revolutionary ends by Populists, corporate evangelicals reimagined themselves as savvy religious consumers and reformulated their beliefs. Their consumer-oriented "orthodoxy" displaced traditional creeds and undermined denominational authority, forever altering the American religious landscape. Guaranteed pure of both liberal theology and Populist excesses, this was a new form of old-time religion not simply compatible with modern consumer capitalism but uniquely dependent on it.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-2319-1
    Subjects: Religion, Business, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The face of modern marketing in the early twentieth century belonged to an old-fashioned Quaker. Consumers across the United States could purchase Quaker pharmaceuticals, lace curtains, and men’s negligee shirts. They were wooed with ads wryly depicting “Quaker Maids” sailing the high seas atop bottles of rye whiskey.¹ But all other efforts paled in comparison to the Quaker Oats Company. A sophisticated pioneer of promotion, it had spent millions of dollars since the mid-1880s to make its smiling Quaker trademark synonymous with breakfast food, guaranteed pure.

    Members of the Society of Friends, the real Quakers, were not flattered by the...


    • ONE Christian Work
      (pp. 17-40)

      As the United States teetered on the brink of dissolution in September 1860, the minister and abolitionist editor Thomas M. Eddy was busy addressing another crisis. Eddy had been part of a massive migration that had created his adopted city of Chicago virtually ex nihilo. A fourfold population increase in the last decade had strained housing, sanitation, and government services to the breaking point. The same was true of the moral infrastructure. Like most midcentury Protestants, Eddy believed the bedrock of the social order rested on the twin pillars of home and church. Both were in short supply. The population...

    • TWO The Problem of the Masses
      (pp. 41-65)

      The massive Tabernacle from Moody’s Chicago campaign sat vacant for most of 1877 awaiting transformation into a new warehouse for John Farwell. But on the afternoon of July 25, it once again teemed with activity, raised from its slumber by fears of “an earthly kind.” Railroad labor strikes that started in West Virginia had marched westward toward Chicago. The same middle-class newspapers that had puffed Moody’s meetings now bellowed fears of class conflict into open flame. The police drew first blood on July 24, dispersing a largely peaceful gathering of workers with clubs and guns. Now, the city’s “leading men”...

    • THREE Power for Service
      (pp. 66-89)

      It was April 18, 1889, and Reuben A. Torrey was ecstatic. For the last four months, the Minneapolis minister had conducted a test. He ceased taking a salary or even asking for donations, choosing instead to rely on God’s provision through prayer alone. The experiment had produced “so many evidences of [God’s] love & care,” he wrote, “that it seems as though I ought to keep a record of His many kindnesses to me.” The diary that followed recorded his “faith work.” In the most thrilling of the anecdotes, prayers were answered when donors followed a divine impulse from the Holy...

    • FOUR The Crisis of Evangelical Realism
      (pp. 90-114)

      It was a spectacle worthy of the Colombian Exposition that inspired it. In May 1893, D. L. Moody began a five-month evangelistic blitz of Chicago, coinciding with the World’s Fair. It would be a fitting legacy for the revivalist and a telling indication of how his thinking about city evangelism had developed. Dispensing with a central auditorium and single revivalist, he lured nearly every prominent Christian worker he knew to join in the campaign. Some were seasoned veterans—quite literally in the case of Civil War major general Oliver O. Howard. Others were up-and-coming Bible teachers, the household names for...


    • FIVE Religion on a “Business Basis”
      (pp. 117-137)

      When Henry Parsons Crowell first entered the oatmeal business in 1882, few took him seriously. He knew nothing about the milling process, and his newly purchased mill in north-central Ohio was in laughable condition. Other millers considered Crowell a fool, and by the business logic of an antebellum economy, he was. But he could have cared less. Crowell was part of a phalanx of forward-looking businessmen that considered physical equipment secondary to a business’s intangible assets. It was a calculus that transformed the face of business over the next thirty years.

      The oatmeal market suffered under the weight of too...

    • SIX A Consuming Faith
      (pp. 138-161)

      Stephen Woodruff completed his studies at Moody’s Bible Institute in 1898, believing he was called to the ministry. But with no ready opportunities, he took a job in the printing office of the Chicago-basedFarm Implement News. By 1905 it seemed that God had called him to a secular career, but he worried his hard work had gone unnoticed by his superiors. Fearing a life without advancement, he began studying Walter Dill Scott’s famous textbookPsychology of Advertisingto better his prospects in the publishing world. One evening, Woodruff returned to MBI to attend a lecture by James Gray on...

    • SEVEN Pure Religion
      (pp. 162-192)

      Frank Hagerty was a dealer in grain, animal feed, and flour in Arch Spring—a now-defunct speck of a town in west-central Pennsylvania. He was a world away from Chicago, but he could not escape its products. The grain he sold, raised in the surrounding farmlands, was no doubt touched by McCormick farm equipment. He had probably also leafed through his share of Montgomery Ward or Sears and Roebuck catalogs. But on this spring day, the Chicago institution on Hagerty’s mind was the Moody Bible Institute, to which he was writing a letter of thanks for a complimentary copy of...

    • EIGHT The Name You Can Trust
      (pp. 193-226)

      “A Cosmopolite” and “a National Layman”—so the Presbyterian newspaperContinentcharacterized Henry B. F. Macfarland in 1913. His varied and distinguished career gave ample reasons to agree with this claim. Macfarland certainly had a distinguished career. He started as a political journalist and became one of the founders of the famous Gridiron Club. In 1900 he was appointed by President William McKinley to be president of the commissioners (mayor) of the District of Columbia. He implemented many municipal reforms of the “city beautiful” movement. He then began a third career in law, which already reaped “a number of notable...

  7. Epilogue
    (pp. 227-234)

    Moody Bible Institute continued to exert immense influence over conservative evangelicalism after the fundamentalist-modernist controversies of the 1920s. Having proven itself an expert in organization, it served as a primary hub of an informal religious network that spread across America and the world.¹ It is difficult to think of an interwar fundamentalist that did not have or attempt to establish some connection to MBI. Interestingly, this included Reuben Torrey, who at the end of his career returned to teach at MBI and serve as an extension worker. After Lyman Stewart’s death, tensions rose between Torrey and Biola trustees over undisclosed...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 235-260)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-290)
  10. Index
    (pp. 291-307)