Liberal & Evangel.Protestantism/US

Instructor: Antony Alumkal

Office Phone: 303-765-3131


Course Description: This course compares liberal and evangelical forms of Protestantism in the United States, drawing on both scholarly analysis and popular works. Topics of focus include interpretations of the Bible, race, gender, politics, and science.

Contacting Me
Email (not Canvas) is the best way to contact me during the week. If you have lengthy issues to discuss, we can set up a time for a phone conversation or Google Hangout.

Click link below to download the syllabus as a Word file.


The course aims to introduce students to the following:

  1. The shared historical roots of liberal and evangelical theology as attempts to reconcile Christianity with modern (enlightenment) thought.
  2. The primary beliefs associated with each religion subculture.
  3. How these two religious subcultures operate in public life and popular culture.

  1. The following books are required texts for the course.


Borg, Marcus J. 2003. The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith. San Francisco: HarperSanFranciso.


Evans, Christopher. 2010. Liberalism without Illusions: Renewing an American Christian Tradition. Waco: Baylor University Press.


Marsden, George. M. 1991. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.


McLaren, Brian D. 2010. A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that Are Transforming the Faith. San Francisco: HarperOne. (Note: Be sure not to confuse this book with its predecessor, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey.)


Warren, Rick. 2002. The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? Grand Rapids: Zondervan. (Note: Feel free to use a later edition of the book, but make sure not to buy one of the companion books like The Purpose Driven Life Journal. Used copies start at $0.01 + shipping on Amazon.)



  1. The following readings are available as pdfs on the Canvas site:


Alumkal, Antony. 2004. “American Evangelicalism in the Post-Civil Rights Era: A Racial Formation Theory Analysis.” Sociology of Religion 65:195-213.


Alumkal, Antony. 2012. “Racial Justice in the Protestant Mainline: Liberalism and Its Limits.” Pp. 275-298 in Faith and Race in American Political Life, edited by Robin Jacobson and Nancy Wadsworth.  Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.


Alumkal, Antony. 2012. “Strategic Frame Ambivalence: Intelligent Design and Reparative Therapy Navigate the Worlds of Religion and Science.” Paper presented at the American Sociological Association, Denver, CO.


Balmer, Randall. 1993. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 2


Gallagher, Sally. 2004. “The Marginalization of Evangelical Feminism.” Sociology of Religion 65: 215-237.


Marti, Gerardo and Gladys Ganiel. 2014. The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press. Introduction.


Tinker, Tink. 2013. “Why I Do not Believe in a Creator.” Pp. 167-179 in Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice, and Life Together, edited by Steve Heinrichs. Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press.



  1. The following readings are available for free download:


Everhart, Ruth. 2017. “A Pastor’s #MeToo Story: When the Church Silences Women and Protects Abusers” Christian Century 134:22-25.


Lee, Deborah Jian. 2017. “Betrayed at the Polls, Evangelicals of Color at a Crossroads.”

Religion Dispatches.


Little, Anita. 2017. “A Progressive Christian Conference with an All-White Lineup: What Could Go Wrong?” Religion Dispatches.


Wallis, Jim. 2017. “White American Evangelical Christianity Is a Bubble — and It’s About to Burst.” Sojourners.



  1. The first type of assignment in the course will be regular postings on Canvas. The class will be split up into smaller posting groups to keep the conversations manageable. You will be expected to make two kinds of posts for each posting assignment. First, you should make a substantive response to the assignment question. (The assignment questions will be posted in advance on Canvas). Second, you should make a substantive response to another person’s post. The response may be a question about the post, asking for clarification or more information about a specific issue raised. Alternatively, you can respond by adding more analysis (e.g. discussing why the statement may be true), describing a personal experience that relates to the statement, or discussing implications (“if this is true, then…”). The point is to have a conversation. If you post at all required times and your posts are good quality, you can expect to get full credit (that mean an A).You can check your grades on Canvas. Deadlines for posting assignments will be listed in Canvas, but response posts will always be due one class session later (if the initial post is due Monday, the response post will be due Thursday).


  1. Students are required to attend both Gathering Days sessions: Tuesday February 5, 1:00–05:00 pm and Wednesday February 6, 8:00AM–Noon.


  1. Students are required to write a final research paper. The paper should be approximately 10 pages (don’t worry if the bibliography puts you over). It should present information about a particular religious group, movement, or product (e.g. book or movie) and then discuss how this case confirms, contradicts, or expands concepts from the course read­ings. For example, you might analyze the theology presented on the Focus on the Family website and then discuss how it does or does not match Marsden’s description of evangelical beliefs, and then contrast the theology with that of liberal Protestants as described by Evans and Borg. Hint: Do not make your description of what you studied so long that there is no room left in the paper to discuss the course readings. You want the paper to demonstrate that you have mastered the readings. When in doubt, say more about the course readings.


Discussion Posts: 30%

Gathering Days Participation: 20%

Final Paper: 50%

Students may take the course pass/fail if they request this option by email during the first two weeks of class. You do not need to provide an explanation for why you are choosing this option.

My assumption is that students in a masters program can be expected to produce above average academic work. Therefore, the modal grade I assign is B+. A paper will earn a B+ if it 1) fulfills all of the requirements of the assignment and 2) demonstrates that the student has a solid (though not necessarily flawless) understanding of the con­cepts in the course readings and lectures. A paper will earn a grade higher than a B+ if it fulfills the assignment and demonstrates exceptional insight into the course concepts. A paper will earn a grade of B or B- if there are minor to moderate shortcomings in either fulfilling the assignment or demonstrating understanding of course concepts. Grades below B- are reserved for papers with major shortcomings in either area.

Jan 08, 2019TueCourse Introduction, Sociology of Religiondue by 06:58AM
Jan 08, 2019TueDiscussion 1due by 06:59AM
Jan 11, 2019FriAmerican Evangelicalismdue by 06:58AM
Jan 11, 2019FriDiscussion 2due by 06:59AM
Jan 15, 2019TueAmerican Evangelicalismdue by 06:58AM
Jan 15, 2019TueDiscussion 3due by 06:59AM
Jan 18, 2019FriAmerican Liberal Protestantismdue by 06:58AM
Jan 22, 2019TueAmerican Liberal Protestantismdue by 06:58AM
Jan 22, 2019TueDiscussion 4due by 06:59AM
Jan 25, 2019FriAmerican Liberal Protestantismdue by 06:58AM
Jan 25, 2019FriDiscussion 5due by 06:59AM
Jan 29, 2019TuePopular Evangelicalismdue by 06:58AM
Feb 01, 2019FriPopular Evangelicalismdue by 06:58AM
Feb 05, 2019TuePopular Liberal Christianitydue by 06:58AM
Feb 05, 2019TueGathering Daysdue by 06:59PM
Feb 06, 2019WedGathering Days Attendancedue by 06:59PM
Feb 12, 2019TueRecovery from Gathering Daysdue by 06:58AM
Feb 15, 2019FriThe Emerging/Emergent Churchdue by 06:58AM
Feb 19, 2019TueThe Emerging/Emergent Churchdue by 06:58AM
Feb 22, 2019FriThe Emerging/Emergent Churchdue by 06:58AM
Feb 22, 2019FriDiscussion 6due by 06:59AM
Feb 26, 2019TueRace in American Protestantismdue by 06:58AM
Mar 01, 2019FriGender in American Protestantismdue by 06:58AM
Mar 05, 2019TueUmbrella Groupsdue by 06:58AM
Mar 05, 2019TueDiscussion 7due by 06:59AM
Mar 08, 2019FriThe Christian Right vs. Mainstream Sciencedue by 06:58AM
Mar 12, 2019TueFinals Weekdue by 05:58AM
Mar 15, 2019FriFinal Paperdue by 05:59AM