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Moral AmbitionMobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches$
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Omri Elisha

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267503

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267503.001.0001

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(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
Moral Ambition

Omri Elisha

University of California Press

The chapter explains the concept of moral ambition highlighting two key points. First, as socially engaged evangelicals work to attain religious virtues associated with grace and compassion, they simultaneously work to inspire others to adopt the appropriate moral dispositions necessary to enhance volunteer mobilization. Second, the moments of creative agency triggered by these aspirations are at once fueled and constrained by the ideological demands of the institutional contexts in which they emerge. They are also complicated by multiple and at times conflicting historical, cultural, and theological influences that coexist within those contexts. In addition, the chapter offers an in-depth perspective on important aspects of North American evangelicalism, including the complexity of evangelical moral and political attitudes at the congregational level, about which there has been much speculation but little concrete analysis. The moral ambitions are shaped within specific cultural and institutional milieus that define, authorize, and constrain their actual potential.

Keywords:   moral ambitions, spiritual transformation, conservative evangelicals, social engagement, political attitudes

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