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BOOK REVIEWS309 founding spirit. It provides a key resource for those who wish to focus on the Vincentian FamUy Tree Ui the forest of God's faithful foUowers. Miriam D. Ukeritis, CSJ. Sisters ofSt.Joseph ofCarondelet, Albany (New York) Province Miracles and the Modern Religious Imagination. By Robert Bruce MuLUn. (New Haven, Connecticut:Yale University Press. 1996. Pp. xi, 322. $30.00.) Robert Bruce Mullin has crafted a very smart study of the idea of miracles in the English-speaking world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; his book, in fact, should contribute in important ways to reshaping the scholarly conversation about the theological fault Lines that defined GUded Age religion. On one level, MulUn's study is about the coUapse of the revered Protestant idea of a "limited age of miracles." For 300 years, English-speaking Protestants had agreed that miracles—direct divine intervention in the course of nature and history in response to personal, petitionary prayer—had been limited to the apostolic church, and were granted then for only two reasons: to highUght bibUcal revelation and to aid in the establishment of Christianity. This idea had achieved something close to doctrinal status in the centuries after the Reformation in the Anglo-American world because it performed three essential functions : it helped to define the crucial dividing line between sober, Bible-beUeving Protestants and the magical, pagan world of CathoUcs; it anchored the unique authority of the New Testament in "mighty acts" different from aU subsequent, post-apostolic "wonders"; and—especially after the rise of the"New Science"— it aUowed Protestants to combine a belief in the biblical miracles ofJesus with the Enlightenment vision of regular, orderly "Nature." By the mid-nineteenth century, this pan-Protestant belief was under attack from a number of positions: from Protestant exponents of higher criticism like Charles Briggs; from agnostic practitioners of evolutionary science like Aldous Huxley; from Christian advocates of faith healing like John Alexander Dowie; and from "romantic" religious thinkers like Horace Bushnell. MuULn argues that by the final period of his study (1850-1930) the belief in the "limited age" had lost it hegemonic role in defining the beUefs of Protestants, and was limited to outposts of the older orthodoxy like Princeton Seminary. But MuUin's story is a nuanced and sophisticated tale eschewing the heavyhanded traditional interpretation pressed by some inteUectuaI historians—that the assault on the miraculous was part of an inevitable evolution of naturaUstic principles of "modern science" after Darwin. MuLUn convincingly shows that the GUded Age debate over the miraculous witnessed the rise of a large and vocal countervaUing movement within the North Atlantic Protestant community that saw miracles as increasingly important in the modern world, and wit- 310BOOK REVIEWS nessed as weU a dramatic reaUgnment of debate partners in the discussion, as many devout Protestants found more succor from Catholics than from feUow Protestants in the culture-wide fracas. MuUin demonstrates that by 1915 the belief in the "limited age" was simply no longer accepted by many Englishspeaking beUevers, and that an emergent interest in the "ministry of healing" had led to three distinctive positions on the miraculous that stiU define, to a large extent, contemporary religious discourse about the miraculous: a "therapeutic " model of miracles, that sees the divine working in natural categories; a "sacramental/Uturgical" model, that emphasizes the role of grace operating through formaUy ordained ecclesiastical channels; and a "thaumaturgical" model, that argues that God intervenes directly in the Uves of the faithful. This is an extremely important and well-written study, and contributes in three significant ways to reshaping the discussion of religion in the North Atlantic world in the GUded Age: first, Mullin demonstrates that debates focused on the miraculous may very weU be at least as important as the discussions about the authority and inspiration of scripture in understanding the splintering and realignment of the Protestant mainstream in the hatf-century after 1875; secondly, MuUin shows that this debate appears to have replaced the traditional Catholic-Protestant division in defining the "parties" of theological discussion by the early years of the twentieth century, and thus posits an "ecumenical " sentiment across Reformation Lines earUer than usually recognized by religious historians...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 309-310
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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