Review of taking heaven by storm

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It’s unusual to hear that historians haven’t written about a breathtaking institution like American Methodism. Following the Revolution, the Methodists introduced a new regime in order to capitalize on opportunities in faith and church in order to become the most prominent denomination by 1830. The revolution saw a meteoric rise, but it did so with easy and incredible steps that would go down in history. As a result, Mathews, Timothy, Nathan, and Russell discovered the intellectual differentiation of the faith involved in the past. Taking Heaven by Storm’s main aim was to discover, analyzed and present the lifestyles of early Methodists focusing on their influence on the culture and probably their growth in the United States in the 1820s.

In his discovery of the Methodists, he majored on the preachers who had written journals and records that contributed richly in archiving the movement identifying the social groups that left significant evidence. Wigger based his main arguments on the development of Methodism becoming a mainstream and national figure by maneuvering the necessary reformulation of Christianity virtues in the world such as, “more enthusiastic, individualistic, egalitarian, entrepreneurial and lay-oriented style of leadership promoting democracy.” The model of leadership had less hierarchy and few differentials outdoing the famous Revolution known in the era. By this, the Methodist won more converts in the lower and middle class with the promise of self-improvement.

In the preliminary analysis of the first four chapters, several themes like preaching, the denominational organization, structures and ways of worship, a sense of freshness and psychological consideration takes center stage. The Methodists improved their connectionism by providing intense and centralized pathways in the itinerary ministry by the local flexibility. The Asbury fundamentally produced output to the overworking laywomen and men in the department in the verge of power without interfering with the central control that placed above any other denomination in the free nation. The Asbury method ensured that the preaching’s and sacrament provision reached the remotest followers hence proving a sense of belonging to members.

The Methodist tried to link ministry with local community practices. Drawing of preachers from the same social background as the audience earned them high conversion factors to youths described as “the highest calling on earth” that helped them endure the disapprobation of the family members, issues of poor praying manners, cope up with the demanding needs of the work. The dramatic style of preaching gave the poor and uneducated followers the opportunity to appear in public domain. Besides, they earned some of the apprenticeships for education. This kind of developments of individuals boosted the believers’ faith of reaching the promise land.

The local network appealed to the new members. The author was keen in depicting how the frequent meetings (social, quarterly and camp) coupled with their leaders contributed to bringing an active and intimate community suitable for worship and social interactions. On the contrast, the church agencies provided reasonable disciplinary controls to both women and men where self-discipline matters thus spearheading the achievement of goals. To add on, they supported the liberalism of spirit, not laws, the attainment of visions dreams and divine healing opposed to the long lasted generations of handling issues between the 1810s and 1820s.

Further analysis of the chapters reveals the role of women in Methodism. The adjective backbone best describes it not only for their overwhelming numbers but also as the principal builders of the movement. The author claimed that a home without churchwomen lacked the salience. Compared with men, the only handful of females performed the duties of preaching and exhortations with a license; however, they were the prayer leaders, guardian, and counselors in the grass roots. Methodism offered the opportunity to display the spiritual equality with men as their witnesses. The unanswered revolved tried to bring sanity if the women too participated in the composition of their roles.

The refinement in the church attains momentum as the book ends. The real revolution in the Methodist took place in the years following 1812. The organization got economic advancement and massive members recruitment paralleled with institutional prosperity. They built modern churches, commissioned colleges and expansion of publishing companies.


In summary, the book ‘Taking Heaven by Storm’ dwells on the development of Methodism in the 1820s. The book talks about certain aspects of religion that did not tapped by other denominations in the United States. In the analysis of the book, the lives of the Methodists influence on others cultures and dynamism that led to the growth. For instance, we do not understand whether women took part in the drafting of church roles. The denomination uses of Asbury in the execution of leadership that helped gain the hearts of many followers. Furthermore, more converts bowed to the capitalist, entrepreneurial practices. Both the blacks and whites welcomed the revolution because they encouraged the modern and traditional practices. However, they are several unanswered questions regarding, the participation of women in drafting their roles and functions and how the author presented the evolution of Methodism.


Wigger, John H. Taking heaven by storm: Methodism and the rise of popular Christianity in America. University of Illinois Press, 2001. Retrieved on 21/05/2017 from .

Wigger John H. Taking heaven by storm: Methodism and the rise of popular Christianity in America. New York and Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1998. ix + 269 pp.(cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-510452-3. Reviewed by Jonathan D. Sassi (College of Staten Island/CUNY)Published on H-SHEAR (December, 1998).

Wigger John H. Taking Heaven by Storm: Methodism and the Rise of Popular Christianity in America. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. pp. xi, 269) reviewed by Leo Hirrel, DuFour Law Library, The Catholic University of America. Retrieved from

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