09 The American Century and Its Evangelical Christian Fiction Legacy
Marisa Ronan investigates how the ideology of the “American Century” became enmeshed in the emergence of a distinct evangelical Christian fiction genre. By positioning the End Times narrative within an identifiably American experience, evangelicals sought to locate America’s destiny within a biblically ordained narrative of American Exceptionalism that drew heavily upon the geopolitical developments of the time. The article explores the origins of the “American Century” as a concept, from its earliest appearance in Henry R. Luce’s 1941 editorial, to how it became, for evangelical writers and theologians, a useful entry point into the political sphere and a way to encode their writing with an ever increasing sense of urgency. In focusing on the writings of Frank Peretti, Tim LaHaye, and Jerry Jenkins, Ronan seeks to establish how the novels that found greatest popular success were those which were fully entrenched in the “American Century” narrative.