Lyman Stewart and Early Fundamentalism

B. M. Pietsch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


An analysis of Lyman Stewart, California oilman and patron of early American fundamentalism, reveals much about the mutual transformations of American religion and capitalism in the early twentieth century. As an expositor of Victorian moralism and California Progressivism, as a missionary for dispensational fundamentalism, and a leader in industrial extraction, Stewart applied the logics of supernatural religion to his oil speculation and the logics of industrial capitalism to his religious work. As one of the chief architects of twentieth-century fundamentalist aspirations, Stewart pursued dueling objectives. On the one hand, he fought for empire and cultural custodianship; on the other hand, he argued for purity and cultural separatism. It was not theological or ecclesiological beliefs that produced this dual aim, but the commodification of religious work. As oil became transmuted into religious capital, religious work - particularly pastorates, missionary work, and theological education - became commodities that could be bought and sold, regulated, and appraised in terms of both purity and production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-646
Number of pages30
JournalChurch History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies

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