Cover image for Growing up Protestant : parents, children, and mainline churches
Growing up Protestant : parents, children, and mainline churches
Bendroth, Margaret Lamberts, 1954-
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 195 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Ch. 1. -- Christian nurture and Victorian domesticity -- ch. 2. Protestant homes and Christian civilization -- ch. 3. From Christian home to Christian family -- ch. 4. --Protestant families in wartime -- ch. 5. Praying to stay together in the 1950s -- ch. 6.-- Mainliners, evangelicals, and family religion -- ch. 7. --Alternatives and possibilities.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BV4526.2 .B44 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Home and family are key, yet relatively unexplored, dimensions of religion in the contemporary United States. American cultural lore is replete with images of saintly nineteenth-century American mothers and their children. During the twentieth century, however, the form and function of the American family have changed radically, and religious beliefs have evolved under the challenges of modernity. As these transformations took place, how did religion manage to "fit" into modern family life?

In this book, Margaret Lamberts Bendroth examines the lives and beliefs of white, middle-class mainline Protestants (principally northern Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists) who are theologically moderate or liberal. Mainliners have pursued family issues for most of the twentieth century, churning out hundreds of works on Christian childrearing. Bendroth's book explores the role of family within a religious tradition that sees itself as America's cultural center. In this balanced analysis, the author traces the evolution of mainliners' roles in middle-class American culture and sharpens our awareness of the ways in which the mainline Protestant experience has actually shaped and reflected the American sense of self.

Author Notes

Margaret Lamberts Bendroth is a professor of history at Calvin College in Michigan. She is the author of Fundamentalism and Gender, 1875 to the Present, and coauthor of several other books on American religion.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Bendroth's text covers two centuries of mainline Protestant thinking on the family. She begins with Horace Bushnell's ideal of Christian nurture, linking his gradualist approach to childhood faith to the regularized patterns of early-19th-century, middle-class life in general. Two chapters then trace how family faith was tied to social transformation in the post-Civil War nation and then to the progressive movement in the early 20th century. The second half of the book deals with later 20th-century developments and here, even though the focus remains on mainline Protestantism, Bendroth (Calvin College) mixes fundamentalist and evangelical themes into her story. For the most part, she describes mainline approaches to the family as being in decline, while evangelicals are evaluated somewhat less pessimistically. Her conclusion briefly sketches two alternatives--the Christian Family Movement in the Catholic Church and patterns of parent-child relations in the African American church--and then ends on a theological note saying that, unless there is a new and "clear theological rationale for the family's role within the church," the mistakes of the past will be repeated. For all readership levels. D. Jacobsen Messiah College