Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory

MPAA Rating: G

Entertainment: +4

Content: +4

Documentary (3 Cassette Series-55 min. each-1993)

MINE EYES is one of the most fascinating, informative and well produced video documentaries in recent years. In three cassettes, it describes the origins, nature and growth of the evangelical religious movement in America. Its writer and presenter, Dr. Randall Balmer, Professor of Religion at Columbia University, produced the series for PBS. He does not hesitate to point out the deficiencies of evangelicalism as he sees them, but overall his tone is objective and even sympathetic at times.

Explaining that evangelicalism encompasses hundreds of denominations and thousands of churches, he describes in Part 1 the diverse ethnic backgrounds and worship formats which characterize evangelicals. However, the literal interpretation of the Bible and Bible inerrancy are common to all evangelical theology. The mammoth Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago is featured with its entertainment oriented services. In contrast, the pentecostal-like service of a evangelical church in Mississippi is shown. In Part 2, Balmer tells how evangelicalism had is origin in the 1700's with the fiery frontier preachers including the eloquent George Whitfield. These, in turn, were followed by well known preachers such as Dwight Moody and conservative attorney, William Jennings Bryan of the famous Scopes "monkey" trial. Balmer interviews scholars at evangelical Bible colleges, and evangelical youth at Bible camps and music festivals to probe their beliefs and feelings.

In the final Part 3, modern day evangelical developments are chronicled. The phenomena of TV evangelists, the passion for political and social reform and the use of modern day merchandising techniques are explored. The emergence and message of the prosperity gospel are presented, as well as the activities of the black community in evangelicalism. It ends with the revelation that some evangelical churches have begun to incorporate liturgical elements of the historical churches in their services.

Dr. Balmer also reveals that he and his parents were part of the evangelical movement, but that he personally has some intellectual difficulties with its methods and theology. At the same time, he feels compelled to resolve these difficulties with the gospel message of the evangelicals. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory can be purchased from Gateway Films for $59.95.Call 1-800-523-0226. May also be available at some Christian book stores.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans

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