After the death of my granddad John R. Rice in 1980, I continued a quest to understand where I came from and why I am who I am. I’ve been working to understand and practice what I believe are the true fundamentals: a passionate love for God, and a transformative love of one’s neighbor as oneself. Now, a younger generation of evangelicals is reshaping Protestant Christianity by asking radical questions about what it means to follow Jesus.
The story of my fundamentalist childhood; growing up with all my relatives who were preachers or the wives or children of preacher; how “separatism” governed our lives; the unexpected gifts that come from growing up steeped in the attitudes and philosophy of my fundamentalist family.
In 1981 Jerry Falwell delivered the eulogy at the funeral of my granddad, evangelist John R. Rice. Following the funeral I had dinner with Falwell. My granddad had been a fundamentalist leader for decades, the author of many books and editor of the influential Sword of the Lord newspaper. Falwell was an old family friend and long-time supporter, and had lately founded the Moral Majority and aided in the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency.
From author Andrew Himes: "Christian fundamentalism in America emerged a century ago, the faith of generations of immigrants who had experienced war and revolution, removal and upheaval, and in response to the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Scots-Irish who settled the South inherited both an evangelical legacy of abolitionism and social reform on the one hand, and responsibility for the painful and destructive consequences of human slavery on the other.
"I come from a long line of fundamentalist preachers -- including my dad, my brother, many uncles and cousins, my granddad, John R. Rice, the dean of American fundamentalists for decades until his death in 1980 -- and my great-granddad Will Rice -- who was a Baptist preacher, Texas State Senator, and a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. This book brings the complicated and contradictory story of fundamentalism to life through the generations of the Rice family -- who were immigrants, soldiers, farmers, slaveowners, refugees, and preachers -- as well as the story of my own life.
"In this book, I've brought it all together in a work of history, memoir, and personal testimony about the shape of faith and an image of God that can help us transform ourselves and change the world. I hope you'll join me in the conversation!"