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Taking Heaven by John H. Storm Wiggers

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In his book Taking Heaven by Storm, John H. Wiggers argues that Methodism has played a vital role in shaping current day American society by developing an innovative method of blending Methodist pious ideals with American values (191). A History Professor at University of Missouri, Wiggers adequately supports his thesis with three main arguments of Methodist innovation in America and their effects evangelism, community, and equality. Wiggers argues these points through a combination of personal stories of “early Methodists, particularly the itinerant preachers” (7) and impartial evidence. Wiggers also connects his main arguments smoothly through this book. This argumentative structure is effective because it not only holds the interest of the average college student, but also is convincing enough to persuade a scholar.
The first argument Wiggers made was that innovation was a large part of Methodism’s success in gaining membership. One aspect of innovation Wiggers discussed was Methodism’s system of evangelism. Methodism was both mobile and effective. While most churches were expecting people to come to them, Methodists sent out itinerant preachers to come to the people. Not only did Methodism spread its message, it also established local preachers to foster community. It was this combination of iterant and local preachers who recognized the values of Americans ( =26), Wiggers argued, that was a large part of Methodism’s success in America. Wiggers supported this argument with a well-balanced combination of impartial evidence and personal accounts.
Wiggers fluidly transitions from this argument described in his chapters Methodist Connection and the Methodist Itinerant to his next chapter The Social Principle, which stressed th...

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...eir effect. Although there were arguments that could have been expanded on, or supported with stronger evidence, this book contributes to the study of History because Wiggers did not merely re-iterate facts. He used this book to help readers appreciate American Methodism and convince them that Methodism has played a vital role in shaping current day American society by developing an innovative method of blending Methodist pious ideals with American values (191). Both the structure of his book and his combination of personal accounts and impartial evidence such as statistics show proof of his intent as a History Professor to both teach and convince his readers and provide a historical documentation that could be educate both college students and scholars.

Works Cited

Wigger, John H. Taking Heaven by Storm. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998.
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