Who is an Evangelical? Part 2: Supplementary Notes

Related Post: Who is an Evangelical? Part 1 Some of you looking for a sweeping historical account of evangelicalism may want to read the five-volume “History of Evangelicalism” co-edited by David Bebbington and Mark Noll and published by Inter-Varsity Press. In volume 1, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys, … Continue reading “Who is an Evangelical? Part 2: Supplementary Notes”

Related Post: Who is an Evangelical? Part 1

Some of you looking for a sweeping historical account of evangelicalism may want to read the five-volume “History of Evangelicalism” co-edited by David Bebbington and Mark Noll and published by Inter-Varsity Press.

In volume 1, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys, Mark Noll offers a panoramic view of the origins of evangelicalism. He begins by agreeing with the significance of the Reformation.

Martin Luther, the first great Protestant leader, proclaimed an ‘evangelical’ account of salvation in Christ over against what he considered the corrupt teachings of the Roman Catholic Church…In the heat of conflict, the positive and negative connotations of ‘evangelical’ multiplied rapidly:
•    it stood for justification by faith instead of trust in human works as the path to salvation;
•    it defended the sole sufficiency of Christ for salvation instead of the human (and often corrupted) mediation of the church;
•    it looked to the once-for-all triumph of Christ’s death on the cross instead of the repetition of Christ’s sacrifice in the Catholic mass;
•    it found final authority in the Bible as read by believers in general instead of what the Catholic Church said the Bible had to mean; and
•    it embraced the priesthood of all Christian believers instead of inappropriate reliance upon a class of priests ordained by the Church. [p.14.] Continue reading “Who is an Evangelical? Part 2: Supplementary Notes”

Who is an Evangelical? Part 1

In 1971, Fidel Castro was reported to be confused and famously exclaimed that “theologians are becoming communists and communists are becoming theologians” [Jose Bonino, Christians and Marxists (Eerdmans, 1976), p. 15.] Today, one would be even more confused when one is repeatedly told by the media that many evangelicals are strong supporters of Donald Trump … Continue reading “Who is an Evangelical? Part 1”

In 1971, Fidel Castro was reported to be confused and famously exclaimed that “theologians are becoming communists and communists are becoming theologians” [Jose Bonino, Christians and Marxists (Eerdmans, 1976), p. 15.] Today, one would be even more confused when one is repeatedly told by the media that many evangelicals are strong supporters of Donald Trump in the 2016 American presidential elections, as Trump’s lifestyle is evidently contrary to Biblical values.

It seems that the word ‘evangelical’ has become a convenient, but misleading sociological category. Surely, this is a sign of evangelicalism lapsing into some form of ‘culture-Christianity’. However, this cultural shift is merely a symptom that lags behind an earlier theological shift. Indeed, there were already various questionable hyphenated evangelicals before the emergence of ‘Trumpian-evangelicals’. Sadly, given the present adulteration of the term ‘evangelicalism’ one may be tempted to abandon the term ‘evangelical’ and identify oneself simply as a ‘gospel-Christian’.

Perhaps there is no need to jettison the term ‘evangelicalism’ given its historic role in the growth of Christianity.  It is fashionable for American historians to link Evangelicalism to the Great Awakening revivals in the USA in the 18th century. Others want to push the origins of Evangelicalism to the beginnings of Christianity. After all, the word ‘evangelicalism’ is derived from ‘evangel’ which simple means ‘the gospel’ or good news (euangelion). Continue reading “Who is an Evangelical? Part 1”

Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds

Part 2: Confessing Creeds and Renewing Evangelicalism For Part 1: The Crisis of Creedless Evangelicalism LINK The historic creeds are indispensable for the following reasons: 1. Authentic spiritual authority. The creeds serve as an antidote for Christians who have imbibed the spirit of individualism and skepticism leading to their rejection of authoritative proclamation of the … Continue reading “Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds”

Part 2: Confessing Creeds and Renewing Evangelicalism

For Part 1: The Crisis of Creedless Evangelicalism LINK

The historic creeds are indispensable for the following reasons:

1. Authentic spiritual authority. The creeds serve as an antidote for Christians who have imbibed the spirit of individualism and skepticism leading to their rejection of authoritative proclamation of the gospel. However, these Christians end up following the latest fashion in spirituality when they are bereft of firm foundations of faith. No single individual has the credibility or competence to challenge prevailing social opinions. It is wise for the church to secure the counsel of many experts as any individual leader is limited in theological expertise and tends to focus on his idiosyncratic interests. Hence, creeds as products of collective wisdom have greater authority than any individual opinion and serve as judicious and authoritative statements for public declaration of the faith of the church. The purpose of a creed is not to debate the minutiae of theological exegesis but to synthesize a grand overview of Christian truths which the church commends to wider society as an alternative and better vision of life than what wider society can offer. Continue reading “Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds”

Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds

Part 1: The Crisis of Creedless Evangelicalism For Part 2: Confessing Creeds and Evangelicalism LINK “Evangelicalism” has become a fuzzy and amorphous word. Evangelicalism is associated with revival meetings where believers give more credence to the pronouncements of blessings by visiting ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’ than to the plain but transforming teaching of the Bible. Preaching … Continue reading “Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds”

Part 1: The Crisis of Creedless Evangelicalism

For Part 2: Confessing Creeds and Evangelicalism LINK

“Evangelicalism” has become a fuzzy and amorphous word. Evangelicalism is associated with revival meetings where believers give more credence to the pronouncements of blessings by visiting ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’ than to the plain but transforming teaching of the Bible. Preaching is as much about the good life of consumerism as it is about eternal life. Elsewhere, evangelicalism is seen to be a new manifestation of old-time fundamentalism which rejected advancement in science and associated faith with ignorance of modern knowledge. It is not surprising that many young evangelicals leave the movement when they go for higher studies. Some pastors who go for further theological training even lose confidence in the infallible authority and entire trustworthiness of the Bible after they imbibed the spirit of rationalism that is prevalent in the academy.

The foregoing episodes suggest that evangelicalism is facing a crisis. Continue reading “Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds”