Empire of the Spirit
Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300106145, 304pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 2005
The emergence of Methodism was arguably the most significant transformation of Protestant Christianity since the Reformation. This book explores the rise of Methodism from its unpromising origins as a religious society within the Church of England in the 1730s to a major international religious movement by the 1880s. During that period Methodism refashioned the old denominational order in the British Isles, became the largest religious denomination in the United States, and gave rise to the most dynamic world missionary movement of the nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, Methodism had circled the globe and was poised to become one of the fastest-growing religious traditions in the modern world.
David Hempton, a preeminent authority on the history of Methodism, digs beneath the hard surface of institutional expansion to get to the heart of the movement as a dynamic and living faith tradition. Methodism was a movement of discipline and sobriety, but also of ecstasy and enthusiasm. A noisy, restless, and emotional tradition, Methodism fundamentally reshaped British and American culture in the age of industrialization, democratization, and the rise of empire.
David Hempton is University Professor at Boston University, where he directs the university’s program in the History of Christianity. His previous books include Methodism and Politics in British Society, 1750–1850, which won the Whitfield Prize of the Royal Historical Society; Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland; and The Religion of the People: Methodism and Popular Religion, c.1750–1900.
“This is an extraordinary book. It is jammed full of scintillating interpretations; it is beautifully written; and it conveys tremendous insight in a short compass. It will be recognized immediately as the classic work on the rise of Methodism.”—Mark Noll, Wheaton College
“Wearing his wisdom and deep learning lightly, David Hempton has produced a sparkling, landmark study whose timely international approach lifts Methodist history to a new and exciting level.”—Richard Carwardine, Oxford University
“This impressive book is one of the best--and certainly one of the most lively--books on Methodism to emerge in years. Based on Hempton's formidable learning, Methodism: Empire of the Spirit provides a well-informed survey of the dynamics of global Methodism. It is exhilarating in both style and content.”—John Walsh, Oxford University
"This is an extraordinary book. It is jammed full of scintillating interpretations; it is beautifully written; and it conveys tremendous insight in a short compass. It will be recognized immediately as the classic work on the rise of Methodism."- Mark Noll, Wheaton College
"This impressive book is one of the best-and certainly one of the most lively-books on Methodism to emerge in years. Based on Hempton's formidable learning, Empire of the Spirit provides a well-informed survey of the dynamics of global Methodism. It is exhilarating in both style and content."-John Walsh, Oxford University
"This is a magnificent book which goes far to establish Hempton as the emperor of the Methodist realm he describes. What is impressive is not just the great range of evidence he brings to bear, but his intellectual mastery of the whole argument, and his endlessly sprightly style."-Professor W.R. Ward, author of The Protestant Evangelical Awakening
"David Hempton's An Empire of the Spirit is a tremendous achievement in bringing to fruition a global perspective on the history of Methodism-a massive religious movement that no other historian knows as well or has explored with such discerning vision. The heart mattered to Wesleyans everywhere, and that heart, Hempton makes clear, was as torn as it was warm. With his transnational scope, Hempton reveals the inner tensions of the people called Methodists, their antinomian feelings and self-improving disciplines, their populist gusto and bourgeois restraint, their inwardness and expansionism. This is an important book on an important movement."-Leigh E. Schmidt, Princeton University
-Leigh E. Schmidt
"Wearing his wisdom and deep learning lightly, David Hempton has produced a sparkling, landmark study whose timely international approach lifts Methodist history to a new and exciting level."-Richard Carwardine, Rhodes Professor of American History, Oxford University
"The great strengths of this book are its command of the history of Methodism on both sides of the Atlantic and, of no less importance, Hempton's acute sense of the social contexts that allow religious movements to take root and flourish. Overall, his is the best informed and most acute analysis of Methodism's success in America that we have."-David D. Hall, Harvard University
-David D. Hall