A review of Mark Tooley’s Methodism and Politics In the 20th Century

By Bob Parrot

Mark Tooley’s well-established training and experience as an investigative reporter through hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles uniquely qualify him to write Methodism and Politics In the 20th Century: From William McKinley to 9/11.

Tooley pulled off a feat that some would think unlikely, unlikely because of who Tooley is. Mark Tooley, famous to some because of his orthodox views of Scripture, tradition, reason and experience, infamous to those who rewrite Scripture, spoof tradition, speciously reason, and tout unbiblical experiences.

In this book Tooley shoots right down the middle. This writing reveals a departmentalized brain with a mind that focusses on objectivity. Without arguing pro or con on the hot-button issues at hand, Tooley puts down what he found in his “investigation” of this 100-year documented history of Methodism. He does not take sides on the divisive issues that plagued the Methodist movement throughout the 20th century –– women’s suffrage and the Ku Klux Klan, through Prohibition, World Wars, civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, marriage and abortion, the Iran hostage crisis, Persian Gulf War, and 9/11.

Read the first chapter and you are hooked. You can’t wait to get into the second. And so on it goes. The closing paragraphs of each chapter summarize the chapter and serve as introductions for the next chapter.

Plain English writing heads the list of reasons to read this book. Tooley is as capable as any card-carrying theologian to use words that shoot above the heads of readers. He chooses not to go that route. His style of writing comes so natural that he does not have to resort to lofty utterances that communicate only to himself and a few elites who enjoy such supercilious games.

 Bob Parrot is the editor of the Albert Outler Library.