Maddux Publishes Essay on Aimee Semple McPherson

Assistant professor Kristy Maddux is the author of an essay on the rhetoric of 20th century evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson that appears in a recent issue of Rhetoric & Public Affairs. Her essay is entitled "The Foursquare Gospel of Aimee Semple McPherson."

Preaching across the United States and around the world, the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson built an unprecedented ministry between 1915 and 1944, an era typically remembered for Christian discord. In the formative years of her ministry (1915 to 1926), Maddux argues, McPherson resisted the divisiveness of fundamentalism and modernism, instead continuing to preach in the evangelical style popular within American Christianity since the Great Awakening. Because fundamentalism and modernism prized science, rationality, and intellect, and tended to offer propositional logic that articulated the nuances of Christian doctrine, those discourses typically emerged in denominational conflicts and civil and ecclesiastical trials. Close analysis of McPherson’s public discourse, however, reminds us that evangelicalism endured in its more natural habitat—sermons and revivals. McPherson’s discourse can be characterized as the Foursquare Gospel of Aimee Semple McPherson: McPherson the prophet, evangelist, storyteller, and performer. Her example highlights how evangelicalism, fundamentalism, and modernism can be defined as rhetorical styles rather than institutions, groups of people, or individual leaders.

Citation: Kristy Maddux, "The Foursquare Gospel of Aimee Semple McPherson," Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14 (2011): 291-326.

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