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Wesleyan Theological Society awards Smith-Wynkoop Book Award to Prof. Randall Stephens

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The Fire SpreadsThe Wesleyan Theological Society has awarded its Smith-Wynkoop Book Award to history professor Randall Stephens for The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South, which was recently published by Harvard University Press.  The award is given to recognize exceptional scholarship of the Wesleyan/holiness tradition. Duke University professor of church history Grant Wacker praises Stephens’ book for “sedulous research, balanced judgment, and impressive imagination.” Wacker also says that Stephens’s work “stands as a work of exceptional importance in the rapidly developing fields of holiness, Pentecostal, and southern cultural and religious history.”
This isn’t the first time Stephens and The Fire Spreads has received high praise. Stephens was selected as a 2008-2009 Young Scholar of American Religion at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis; a Top Young Historian by George Mason University’s History News Network; and has been invited to the Policy History Conference in St Louis, May 2008, to give a paper titled “The Politics of Apocalypse: The Politicization of American Pentecostals.” The Fire Spreads was nominated for the 2008 Grawemeyer Award in religion; and received favorable reviews in Books and Culture, the Atlantic Monthly, and was reviewed as a lead piece in London’s Times Literary Supplement.

In addition to his role as assistant professor of history, Stephens is an editor of the Journal of Southern Religion, and editor of Historically Speaking, a historical journal based out of Boston University. (Senior editor is ENC’s history professor Donald Yerxa.) His well-written and carefully researched The Fire Spreads shows that early southern Pentecostal converts challenged an array of traditional beliefs and southern conventions. At the same time they are typically the most conservative of Christians. He is currently co-authoring a book on contemporary American evangelicalism with ENC physics professor Karl Giberson. Harvard University Press will publish it as well.

Stephens also just published an article with The Christian Century on religion and race in the South.