Books By Baylor Professors, Alum Earn 2008 CT Book Awards

  • News Photo 4408
    Dr. Roger E. Olson
  • News Photo 4407
    Dr. Thomas S. Kidd
  • News Photo 4409
    Dr. Rodney Stark
March 19, 2008

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Christianity Today has announced the recipients of its annual CT Book Awards, which include Award of Merit recognition for books written by Baylor University professors Roger E. Olson, Thomas S. Kidd and Rodney Stark.

In addition, Baylor graduate D. Michael Lindsay, assistant professor of sociology at Rice University, won a CT Best Book Award in the Christianity and Culture category for Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite (Oxford, 2007). A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Lindsay earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in English and speech communication from Baylor in 1994, before continuing his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, Oxford and Princeton University.

The annual awards recognize "outstanding volumes that shed light on people, events and ideas that shape evangelical life, thought and mission." This year, 49 publishers nominated 359 titles published in 2007. Rather than naming one overall winner, CT editors selected the top books in each category, and then panels of judges -- one panel per category -- voted, with CT choosing 10 winners and recognizing 11 others with awards of merit.

Dr. Roger E. Olson, professor of theology at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, was honored with a 2008 CT Award of Merit in the Apologetics/Evangelism category for his book Questions to All of Your Answers: A Journey from Folk Religion to Examined Faith (Zondervan, 2007).

    "Many evangelicals have embraced a Christianized 'folk religion' characterized by glib sayings they've never deeply examined. Looking at ten popular Christian slogans in the light of Scripture, this book encourages us to reach for a deeper, well-grounded faith that engages the intellect as well as the heart with the Bible." (

"I'm very pleased by this affirmation and recognition which spurs me to write more," said Olson, who just published his 12th book, How to Be Evangelical without Being Conservative (Zondervan). "This award will inevitably bring positive attention to Truett Seminary and draw some students to us. I write such books for the churches and my greatest hope is that this award will cause more people to read the book and move beyond folk religion to examined Christian faith."

Dr. Thomas S. Kidd, associate professor of history at Baylor, was recognized with a 2008 CT Award of Merit in History/Biography for The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Yale, 2007).

    "In the mid-eighteenth century, Americans experienced an outbreak of religious revivals that shook colonial society. This book provides a definitive view of these revivals, now known as the First Great Awakening, and their dramatic effects on American culture. Historian Thomas S. Kidd tells the absorbing story of early American evangelical Christianity through the lives of seminal figures like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield as well as many previously unknown preachers, prophets, and penitents.

    "The Great Awakening helped create the evangelical movement, which heavily emphasized the individual's experience of salvation and the Holy Spirit's work in revivals. By giving many evangelicals radical notions of the spiritual equality of all people, the revivals helped breed the democratic style that would come to characterize the American republic. Kidd carefully separates the positions of moderate supporters of the revivals from those of radical supporters, and he delineates the objections of those who completely deplored the revivals and their wildly egalitarian consequences. The battles among these three camps, the author shows, transformed colonial America and ultimately defined the nature of the evangelical movement." (

"I'm delighted to receive an award of merit from a major periodical like Christianity Today," Kidd said. "I hope that the honor will draw a broader audience to my work on the Great Awakening and early evangelical Christianity."

Dr. Rodney Stark, University Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor and co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion, was honored with a 2008 Award for Merit in Theology/Ethics for Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief (HarperOne, 2007).

    "Charting the rise of religion from Stone Age spirituality to the spread of Christianity in Africa, Asia, and South America, Stark asks - and answers - a wide range of age-old questions. If God was present from the very beginning, why did he wait to reveal himself? What caused the Axial Age? Why do many belief systems share similar features?" (

"This is my third win from Christianity Today, and it's always nice to win. But it's so impressive that there are three recipients from Baylor," Stark said.

An online link to the awards -- including judges' comments and other resources -- can be accessed at

Christianity Today, in its sixth decade of publication, is the nation's premier evangelical Christian magazine. Its parent company, Christianity Today International, publishes 13 magazines.

About Dr. Roger E. Olson

Olson came to Baylor and Truett Seminary in 1999 from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn. He earned his bachelor's degree in biblical and theological studies from Open Bible College in 1974, master's degrees in religious studies magna cum laude from North American Baptist Seminary in 1978 and Rice University with honors in 1982, and his doctorate in religious studies from Rice in 1984.

Olson's books include The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform, for which he received two awards, including a Gold Medallion from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for 1999. In 1993, he and co-author Stanley J. Grenz published 20th Century Theology: God and the World in a Transitional Age, which was honored by CT as the best book in theology/biblical studies.

About Dr. Thomas S. Kidd

Kidd came to Baylor in 2002 from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a visiting assistant professor of history. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Clemson University in 1994 and a master's degree in history in 1996. He received his doctorate in history from Notre Dame in 2001.

Kidd specializes in 18th century North American history, particularly the history of evangelicalism. His forthcoming books include American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Global Terrorism (Princeton University Press) A Christian Sparta: Evangelicals, Deists, and the Creation of the American Republic (Basic Books) and Patrick Henry: A Biography (Basic Books).

In 2007, Kidd was named a Top Young Historian by the History News Network. He also was awarded the highly coveted National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for 2006-07 and was named Baylor Graduate Student Association Outstanding Professor in 2006 and voted Baylor Faculty Member of the Year in 2004 by Student Government.

About Dr. Rodney Stark

Stark joined the Baylor faculty in 2004 as University Professor of the Social Sciences and co-director of Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion. He previously served as professor of sociology and of comparative religion at the University of Washington and as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California, Berkeley.

A prolific author and renowned scholar in the field of sociology of religion, Stark's books include The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History; The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success; and CITIES OF GOD: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome.

Stark grew up in Jamestown, N.D., and began his career as a newspaper reporter. Following a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, he earned his doctorate from Berkeley.

Stark is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Association for the Sociology of Religion and was founding editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. He also has won a number of national and international awards for distinguished scholarship.

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