Evangelicalism

(Extracts from Various sources)

 

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“Evangelicalism did not take recognizable form until the 18th century, first in Britain and its North American colonies. Nevertheless, there were earlier developments within the larger Protestant world that preceded and influenced the later evangelical revivals. According to religion scholar, social activist, and politician Randall Balmer, Evangelicalism resulted “from the confluence of Pietism, Presbyterianism, and the vestiges of Puritanism. Evangelicalism picked up the peculiar characteristics from each strain – warmhearted spirituality from the Pietists (for instance), doctrinal precisionism from the Presbyterians, and individualistic introspection from the Puritans”.[34] Historian Mark Noll adds to this list High Church Anglicanism, which contributed to Evangelicalism a legacy of “rigorous spirituality and innovative organization”.[35]

During the 17th century, Pietism emerged in Europe as a movement for the revival of piety and devotion within the Lutheran church. As a protest against “cold orthodoxy” or an overly formal and rational Christianity, Pietists advocated for an experiential religion that stressed high moral standards for both clergy and lay people. The movement included both Christians who remained in the liturgical, state churches as well as separatist groups who rejected the use of baptismal fonts, altars, pulpits, and confessionals. As Pietism spread, the movement’s ideals and aspirations influenced and were absorbed into early Evangelicalism.[36]

The Presbyterian heritage not only gave Evangelicalism a commitment to Protestant orthodoxy but also contributed a revival tradition that stretched back to the 1620s in Scotland and Northern Ireland.[37] Central to this tradition was the communion season, which normally occurred in the summer months. For Presbyterians, celebrations of Holy Communion were infrequent but popular events preceded by several Sundays of preparatory preaching and accompanied with preaching, singing, and prayers.[38]

Puritanism combined Calvinism with teaching that conversion was a prerequisite for church membership and a stress on the study of Scripture by lay people. It took root in New England, where the Congregational church was an established religion. The Half-Way Covenant of 1662 allowed parents who had not testified to a conversion experience to have their children baptized, while reserving Holy Communion for converted church members alone.[39] By the 18th century, Puritanism was in decline and many ministers were alarmed at the loss of religious piety. This concern over declining religious commitment led many people to support evangelical revival.[40]

High Church Anglicanism also exerted influence on early Evangelicalism. High Churchmen were distinguished by their desire to adhere to primitive Christianity. This desire included imitating the faith and ascetic practices of early Christians as well as regularly partaking of Holy Communion. High Churchmen were also enthusiastic organizers of voluntary religious societies. Two of the most prominent were the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, which distributed Bibles and other literature and built schools, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was created to facilitate missionary work in British colonies. Samuel and Susanna Wesley, the parents of John and Charles Wesley, were both devoted advocates of High Churchmanship.[41]

^ Gerstner, John H. (1975). “The Theological Boundaries of Evangelical Faith”. In David P. Wells. The Evangelicals. John D. Woodbridge. Nashville: Abingdon Press. pp. 21–36. ISBN 0-687-12181-7. Despite the dominant usage of euangellismos in the New Testament, its derivative, evangelical, was not widely or controversially employed until the Reformation period. Then it came into prominence with Martin Luther precisely because he reasserted Paul’s teaching on the euangellismos as the indispensable message of salvation. Its light, he argued, was hidden under a bushel of ecclesiastical authority, tradition, and liturgy. The essence of the saving message for Luther was justification by faith alone, the article by which not only the church stands or falls but each individual as well. Erasmus, Thomas More, and Johannes Eck denigrated those who accepted this view and referred to them as ‘evangelicals.'”

Wikipedia

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http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/rise-of-evangelicals.html

 

 

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