A former fundamentalist examines the world of his youth
“From my earliest days growing up across the river from my grandparents, I was raised to wait upon the rapture of the saints. Apocalypse was a distant cloud always on the horizon.”
With a keen eye for detail, Brett Grainger plunges readers into the Brethren community of his youth. Like other Christian fundamentalists, the group believed in the “Five Fundamentals of the Christian faith”: Biblical inerrancy, Jesus’ virgin birth, the belief Jesus died for our sins, the resurrection of his body, and a doctrine of his miracles.
Drawing on these beliefs – and the practices they inspired – Grainger paints an intricate picture of fundamentalist Christian life. His grandmother “stuffed her purse with Bible tracts, and pressed them on strangers like breath mints. At the edge of her property she put up a massive green sign that said, ‘What think ye of Christ?’” Grainger’s grandfather, an itinerant preacher, waited one Sunday for the Rapture. As he sat in a recliner, expecting to be subsumed into Heaven, “his long legs suspended in midair, he appeared to already have taken leave of the Earth.”
Getting saved was most important, Grainger writes. The idea that “the longer you waited … the more painful and dramatic the procedure,” prompted his own conversion experience at age 13.
In In the World but Not of It: One Family’s Militant Faith and the History of Fundamentalism in America, Grainger uses his childhood experiences and interviews with other Christian fundamentalists as lenses through which he traces the development of American fundamentalism.