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The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline$
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Elesha J. Coffman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199938599

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199938599.001.0001

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The Contested Center

The Contested Center

(p.182) 7 The Contested Center
The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline

Elesha J. Coffman

Oxford University Press

Christianity Today’s combination of distasteful theology, robust financial support, and sparing but strong elite connections put the Century on the defensive. The same elements combined even more powerfully during Billy Graham’s massive 1957 evangelistic crusade in New York City. Writers for the Century, especially Harold Fey and young staffer Martin Marty, recognized both the magazine launch and the urban crusade as threats to the Century’s status as the most influential Protestant magazine in America. Graham and Christianity Today constructed their authority on the basis of popular support and actual capital rather than cultural capital. The Century could not compete on those terms, but it would not give up its position at the perceived center of American religious life without a fight—even if that meant decoupling the establishment quest for cultural authority from the effort to “win America” for Protestantism.

Keywords:   Christianity Today, Billy Graham, cultural capital, establishment, Martin Marty, influence, Protestantism

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