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The Evangelical Imagination

How Stories, Images & Metaphors Created a Culture in Crisis

Contemporary American evangelicalism is suffering from an identity crisis—and a lot of bad press.

In this book, acclaimed author Karen Swallow Prior examines evangelical history, both good and bad. By analyzing the literature, art, and popular culture that has surrounded evangelicalism, she unpacks some of the movement’s most deeply held concepts, ideas, values, and practices to consider what is Christian rather than merely cultural. The result is a clearer path forward for evangelicals amid their current identity crisis—and insight for others who want a deeper understanding of what the term evangelical means today.

Brought to life with color illustrations, images, and paintings, this book explores ideas including conversion, domesticity, empire, sentimentality, and more. In the end, it goes beyond evangelicalism to show us how we might be influenced by images, stories, and metaphors in ways we cannot always see.

“Provides plenty of fodder for those wishing to explore what evangelicalism is and reimagine what it might become. It’s an eye-opener.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Karen Swallow Prior is among the most helpful Christian literary critics writing today. . . . Prior offers an insightful work of love that aids a holy transformation of our imaginations.”
—Tish Harrison Warren

The Evangelical Imagination is a marvelous book—thoughtful, elegantly written, literate, and timely.”
—Peter Wehner

“As an artist and follower of Jesus often falling into the gaps and fractures of the church and the world, I found this book to be a refreshing and eye-opening guide to navigating beyond the borderlands.”
—Makoto Fujimura

“Karen Swallow Prior wants evangelicals to think carefully about how they think, particularly to understand how much we as evangelicals take for granted in the metaphors we use, the assumptions we make, and the conventions we follow.”
—Mark Noll

“This is a crucial book for anyone who wants to bring every faculty—including the imagination—under the lordship of Christ.”
—Christopher Watkin

“Prior unmasks the often overlooked power of imagination.”
—Walter R. Strickland II

“If you think you’ve read everything on evangelical culture, think twice: The Evangelical Imagination will blow your mind!”
—Jessica Hooten Wilson

“If ‘examination is an act of love,’ as Karen Swallow Prior rightly asserts, then this important book is a loving examination of many of the received ideas, metaphors, and stories that evangelicals have inherited and that inform their worldview.”
—Malcolm Guite

“This eye-opening book calls on evangelicals to examine their fundamental assumptions and to shed their faith of unwanted elements more cultural and political than religious.”
—Henry Reichman