Evangelicalism: The Heart of What We Are, Believe and Do


church

From Africa came the theology presented by St. Augustine; a theology still relevant today. England gave us John Wycliffe, the morning start of the reformation. Czech Republic gave us John Huss who gave his life for the truth and inspired the Moravian Church. From Germany Martin Luther raised his voice against the heresy of the Catholic Church. Germany gave us the reformation and placed the Bible in the hands of the common people. The cry of the Anabaptist will never be ignored. France gave us John Calvin and the theology of the reformation became clear. England also gave us two giants of the faith, John Wesley and the thunderous voice of George Whitefield. Many other heroes of the faith should be mentioned and perhaps other nations to, but one thing is for sure, the United States of America cannot be ignored in the pages of the history of the church. In the mix of all, the Gospel represented the golden pages of our history.

What is an “Evangelical”?

         Moving away from God’s Word, mixing God’s Word with anything secular and the constant seeking of the next “new thing” has always gotten us in trouble. American Evangelicalism was not a new thing; it was simply a return to the orthodoxy of the original apostles. “American evangelism proved to be one of the most significant and impactful religious movement in the twentieth century.”[1] The United States gave us the Gospel again.

         The word evangelicalism derives from the Greek Word evangelium, meaning, good news.[2] David Bebbington (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is a distinguish professor at the University of Stirling in Scotland and a member of the Royal Historical Society.[3]

         David Bebbington developed a “quadrilateral” for defining the    doctrinal nucleus of evangelism, despite a great many diversities.   In modern theological parlance, an “evangelical” is one who      affirms several core beliefs: the authority and efficiency of      Scripture     (biblicism), the uniqueness of salvation through the        cross of Jesus Christ (cruci-centricism), personal conversion   (conversionism), and the urgency of evangelism (activism).[4]

         Respectfully, this quadrilateral definition is not really Dr. Bebbington’s, every point is indeed backup by Scripture.

Describe what an “Evangelical” looks like and how this description has changed over the past 250 years.

         History has a way of fairly or unfairly judge everyone; in church history there is no difference. We can see the diverse movements, theologies, personalities etc. What they proposed and the direct result of their propositions. Just as the reformation recovered the message of the evangelium[5] the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740 became a solid continuation and commitment to such movement. American Evangelicalism was focus on the Word as the ruler of truth, the preaching of the good news, salvation by grace and not by works, the need for repentance, the spreading of such message and a commitment to living holy lives.

         American Evangelism had a combination of flavors that included: 1) seventeenth-century German Pietism and 2) eighteen-century Methodist revivals in England and 3) revivalist from diverse denominations such as, American and Congressionalist, Jonathan Edwards, Anglican George Whitefield, Presbyterian Gilbert Tennent and Dutch Reformed pastor Theodore Freylinghuysen.[6] We should also add to this list, Methodist John Wesley. Can we question the commitment and the seriousness of these men? They were obviously not perfect, but they changed this nation, not with an new political ideology, but with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

         I strongly believe that things began to go south with Charles G. Finney and the nineteen-century revival known as the Second Great Awakening (1792-1875). I say this because we begin to see a departure from the word of God and a greater emphasis on emotionalism and a heavy rejection of orthodoxy.[7]

What is the future of “Evangelicalism”?

         The Gospel will continue to be preached[8] and the church will prevail.[9] These are biblical promises. To preach that the church somehow is not going to make it is not Biblical. However, we must remain vigilant as the original apostles did. We have our own challenges today; the church has been under attack since the very beginning. There is nothing new under the sun according to Ecclesiastes 1:9. Some of the challenges we are facing today are not new at all: 1) Mysticism, 2) Rationalism, 3) Sectarianism, 4) Moralism, 5) Sacerdotalism and Sacramentalism and 6) Politicalism.[10]

         Through the demon of mysticism the church is attack with the idea of the existence of some secret knowledge, some new revelation, etc. Through the demon of rationalism the church is attracted by knowledge as a way of salvation. We are not called to be ignorant as Christians; however, we are saved only through Christ. Through the demon of sectarianism we see certain denomination placing themselves as exclusively having the truth and, regardless of a person’s testimony of salvation, by not being part of them we are doomed for hell. Through the demon of moralism we return to salvation by works and not by grace. Moralism looks good from the outside, but it is rotten with pride. Through the demon of sacerdotalism and sacramentalism we go back to placing our hope in men who act like popes and on powerless rituals. And, through the demon of looking for hope in politics and ideologies we substitute God for a government.

         So then, these demons must be confronted face on; this is taking place in our local churches, in our pulpits and in our Sunday schools. It is this assault on our faith from within that requires policing and a strong apostolic and apologetic force. The future of Evangelicalism is indeed secure; what is in question is your future and mind as humble ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the people we are called to minister to.

[1] John D. Woodbridge & Frank A. James III, Church History Volume Two: From Reformation to the Present Day, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 789

[2] Ibid., 789

[3] http://www.christianbookpreviews.com/christian-book-author.php?isbn=0830825835

[4] John D. Woodbridge & Frank A. James III, Church History Volume Two: From Reformation to the Present Day, 791

[5] Ibid., 789

[6] Ibid., 789

[7] William P. Farley, Charles Finney: “The Controversial Evangelist”, http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200601/200601_118_Finney.cfm, (Accessed June 28, 2016)

[8] Matthew 24:14

[9] Matthew 16:18

[10] Donald D. Bloesh, Evangelicalism, Volume 47, number 1, 2008, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/doi/10.1111/j.1540-6385.2008.00363.x/epdf, (Accessed June 28, 2016)

 

One thought on “Evangelicalism: The Heart of What We Are, Believe and Do

  1. Hi Brother Angel!
    I’m so glad to hear you’re one of the few preachers with the guts to identify Charles Finney as a heretic! Indeed, Finney was a major corrupting force in American Christianity. And yet, we’ve swallowed “Finneyism” hook line and sinker! Fortunately, I think a good part of the church is waking up to this.

    Blessings on thee, my brother!
    Eric

    Like

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