Edward John Carnell (1919-1967), philosopher-theologian and president of Fuller Theological Seminary, played a singularly influential role in the emergence of mid-twentieth century Protestant evangelicalism from its fundamentalist phase. In this book (Cambridge University Press, 1987) Nelson uses Carnell’s life and works as a lens through which to examine important developments in American religious history. During his lifetime, Carnell’s importance was acknowledged both in and outside the evangelical tradition. But he paid a severe price for public recognition—overtly as the object of harsh criticism from right-wing opponents and internally as the victim of a psychological breakdown.
The first half of the book takes a biographical approach, following Carnell’s early life and education, while the second half looks topically at the issues that shaped Carnell’s career, providing helpful clues in the effort to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the evangelical movement he represented.