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Evangelicalism

Movement within Christianity

Top 10 Evangelicalism related articles

Evangelicalism (/ˌvænˈɛlɪkəlɪzəm, ˌɛvæn-, -ən/), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism,[note 1] is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement.[1][2][3] Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has long had a presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.

Its origins are usually traced to 1738, with various theological streams contributing to its foundation, including Pietism, Puritanism, Presbyterianism and Moravianism (in particular its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut).[4] Preeminently, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening. Today, evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch.[5] Among leaders and major figures of the evangelical Protestant movement were John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Harold Ockenga, John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The movement gained great momentum during the 18th and 19th centuries with the Great Awakenings in Great Britain and the United States.

In 2016, there were an estimated 619 million evangelicals in the world, meaning that one in four Christians would be classified as evangelical.[6] The United States has the largest proportion of evangelicals in the world.[7] American evangelicals are a quarter of that nation's population and its single largest religious group.[8][9] As a trans-denominational coalition, evangelicals can be found in nearly every Protestant denomination and tradition, particularly within the Reformed, Baptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal and charismatic churches.[10][11]

Evangelicalism Intro articles: 26

Terminology

Park Street Church, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1904

The word evangelical has its etymological roots in the Greek word for "gospel" or "good news": εὐαγγέλιον euangelion, from eu "good", angel- the stem of, among other words, angelos "messenger, angel", and the neuter suffix -ion.[12] By the English Middle Ages, the term had expanded semantically to include not only the message, but also the New Testament which contained the message as well as more specifically the Gospels, which portray the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.[13] The first published use of evangelical in English was in 1531, when William Tyndale wrote "He exhorteth them to proceed constantly in the evangelical truth." One year later, Thomas More wrote the earliest recorded use in reference to a theological distinction when he spoke of "Tyndale [and] his evangelical brother Barns".[14]

During the Reformation, Protestant theologians embraced the term as referring to "gospel truth". Martin Luther referred to the evangelische Kirche ("evangelical church") to distinguish Protestants from Catholics in the Catholic Church.[15][16] Into the 21st century, evangelical has continued in use as a synonym for (mainline) Protestant in continental Europe, and elsewhere. This usage is reflected in the names of Protestant denominations, such as the Evangelical Church in Germany (a union of Lutheran and Reformed churches) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[13]

In the English-speaking world, evangelical was commonly applied to describe the series of revival movements that occurred in Britain and North America during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.[17] Christian historian David W. Bebbington writes that, "Although 'evangelical', with a lower-case initial, is occasionally used to mean 'of the gospel', the term 'Evangelical', with a capital letter, is applied to any aspect of the movement beginning in the 1730s."[18] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, evangelicalism was first used in 1831.[19] In 1812, the term "evangelicalism" appeared in "The History of Lynn" by William Richards.[20] In the summer of 1811 the term "evangelicalists" was used in "The Sin and Danger of Schism" by Rev. Dr. Andrew Burnaby, Archdeacon of Leicester.[21]

The term may also be used outside any religious context to characterize a generic missionary, reforming, or redeeming impulse or purpose. For example, The Times Literary Supplement refers to "the rise and fall of evangelical fervor within the Socialist movement".[22]

Evangelicalism Terminology articles: 18

Beliefs

Baptistery in the Pentecostal church (Pingstförsamlingen) of Västerås, in Sweden, 2018

One influential definition of evangelicalism has been proposed by historian David Bebbington.[23] Bebbington notes four distinctive aspects of evangelical faith: conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, noting, "Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism."[24]

Conversionism, or belief in the necessity of being "born again", has been a constant theme of evangelicalism since its beginnings. To evangelicals, the central message of the gospel is justification by faith in Christ and repentance, or turning away, from sin. Conversion differentiates the Christian from the non-Christian, and the change in life it leads to is marked by both a rejection of sin and a corresponding personal holiness of life. A conversion experience can be emotional, including grief and sorrow for sin followed by great relief at receiving forgiveness. The stress on conversion differentiates evangelicalism from other forms of Protestantism by the associated belief that an assurance will accompany conversion.[25] Among evangelicals, individuals have testified to both sudden and gradual conversions.[26][27]

Biblicism is reverence for the Bible and high regard for biblical authority. All evangelicals believe in biblical inspiration, though they disagree over how this inspiration should be defined. Many evangelicals believe in biblical inerrancy, while other evangelicals believe in biblical infallibility.[28]

Crucicentrism is the centrality that evangelicals give to the Atonement, the saving death and the resurrection of Jesus, that offers forgiveness of sins and new life. This is understood most commonly in terms of a substitutionary atonement, in which Christ died as a substitute for sinful humanity by taking on himself the guilt and punishment for sin.[29]

Activism describes the tendency toward active expression and sharing of the gospel in diverse ways that include preaching and social action. This aspect of evangelicalism continues to be seen today in the proliferation of evangelical voluntary religious groups and parachurch organizations.[30]

Church government and membership

The word church has several meanings among evangelicals. It can refer to the universal church (the body of Christ) including all Christians everywhere.[31] It can also refer to the local church, which is the visible representation of the invisible church. It is responsible for teaching and administering the sacraments or ordinances (baptism and the Lord's Supper, but some evangelicals also count footwashing as an ordinance as well).[32]

Many evangelical traditions adhere to the doctrine of the believers' Church, which teaches that one becomes a member of the Church by the new birth and profession of faith.[33][11] This originated in the Radical Reformation with Anabaptists[34] but is held by denominations that practice believer's baptism.[35] Evangelicals in the Anglican, Methodist and Reformed traditions practice infant baptism as one's initiation into the community of faith and the New Testament counterpart to circumcision, while also stressing the necessity of personal conversion later in life for salvation.[36][37][38]

Some evangelical denominations operate according to episcopal polity or presbyterian polity. However, the most common form of church government within Evangelicalism is congregational polity. This is especially common among non-denominational evangelical churches.[39] Many churches are members of Evangelical Christian denominations and adhere to a common confession of faith and regulations.[40][41] Common ministries within evangelical congregations are pastor, elder, deacon, evangelist and worship leader.[42] The ministry of bishop with a function of supervision over churches on a regional or national scale is present in all the Evangelical Christian denominations, even if the titles president of the council or general overseer are mainly used for this function.[43][44] The term bishop is explicitly used in certain denominations.[45] Some evangelical denominations are members of the World Evangelical Alliance and its 129 national alliances.[46]

Some evangelical denominations officially authorize the ordination of women in churches.[47] The female ministry is justified by the fact that Mary Magdalene was chosen by Jesus to announce his resurrection to the apostles.[48] The first Baptist woman who was consecrated pastor is the American Clarissa Danforth in the denomination Free Will Baptist in 1815.[49] In 1882, in the National Baptist Convention, USA.[50] In the Assemblies of God of the United States, since 1927.[51] In 1961, in the Progressive National Baptist Convention.[52] In 1975, in The Foursquare Church.[53]

Worship service

Worship service at Christ's Commission Fellowship Pasig affiliated to the Christ's Commission Fellowship in 2014, in Pasig, Philippines

For evangelicals, there are three interrelated meanings to the term worship. It can refer to living a "God-pleasing and God-focused way of life", specific actions of praise to God, and a public Worship service.[54] Diversity characterizes evangelical worship practices. Liturgical, contemporary, charismatic and seeker-sensitive worship styles can all be found among evangelical churches. Overall, evangelicals tend to be more flexible and experimental with worship practices than mainline Protestant churches.[55] It is usually run by a Christian pastor. A service is often divided into several parts, including congregational singing, a sermon, intercessory prayer, and other ministry.[56][57][58][59] During worship there is usually a nursery for babies.[60] Children and young people receive an adapted education, Sunday school, in a separate room.[61]

Cotonou Salem Temple, affiliated with the Assemblies of God, in Cotonou, in Benin, 2018

Places of worship are usually called "churches".[62][63][64] In some megachurches, the building is called "campus".[65][66] The architecture of places of worship is mainly characterized by its sobriety.[67][68] The latin cross is one of the only spiritual symbols that can usually be seen on the building of an evangelical church and that identifies the place's belonging.[69][70]

Some services take place in theaters, schools or multipurpose rooms, rented for Sunday only.[71][72][73] Because of their understanding of the second of the Ten Commandments, evangelicals do not have religious material representations such as statues, icons, or paintings in their places of worship.[74][75] There is usually a baptistery on the stage of the auditorium (also called sanctuary) or in a separate room, for the baptisms by immersion.[76][77]

In some countries of the world which apply sharia or communism, government authorizations for worship are complex for Evangelical Christians.[78][79][80] Because of persecution of Christians, Evangelical house churches have thus developed.[81] For example, there is the Evangelical house churches in China movement.[82] The meetings thus take place in private houses, in secret and in "illegality".[83]

The main Christian feasts celebrated by the Evangelicals are Christmas, Pentecost (by a majority of Evangelical denominations) and Easter for all believers.[84][85][86]

Education

College of Nursing, Central Philippine University, affiliated with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, in Iloilo City, 2018

Evangelical churches have been involved in the establishment of elementary and secondary schools.[87] It also enabled the development of several bible colleges, colleges and universities in the United States during the 19th century.[88][89] Other evangelical universities have been established in various countries of the world.[90]

Sexuality

In matters of sexuality, several evangelical churches promote the virginity pledge among young Evangelical Christians, who are invited to commit themselves during a public ceremony at sexual abstinence until Christian marriage.[91] This pledge is often symbolized by a purity ring.[92]

In evangelical churches, young adults and unmarried couples are encouraged to marry early in order to live a sexuality according to the will of God.[93][94]

A 2009 American study of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported that 80 percent of young, unmarried evangelicals had had sex and that 42 percent were in a relationship with sex, when surveyed.[95]

The majority of evangelical Christian churches are against abortion and support adoption agencies and social support agencies for young mothers.[96]

Masturbation is seen as being prohibited by some evangelical pastors because of the sexual thoughts that may accompany it.[97] In the United States and Nigeria, other evangelical pastors believe that masturbation can be beneficial for the body and that it is a gift from God to avoid fornication, especially for singles.[98][99][100]

Some evangelical churches speak only of sexual abstinence and do not speak of sexuality in marriage.[101][102][103] Other evangelical churches in the United States and Switzerland speak of satisfying sexuality as a gift from God and a component of a Christian marriage harmonious, in messages during worship services or conferences.[104][105][106] Many evangelical books and websites are specialized on the subject.[107][108] The book The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love published in 1976 by Baptist pastor Tim LaHaye and his wife Beverly LaHaye was a pioneer in the field.[109]

The perceptions of homosexuality in the Evangelical Churches are varied. They range from liberal to conservative, through moderate.[110][111] It is in the fundamentalist and conservative positions, that there are anti-gay activists on TV or radio who claim that homosexuality is the cause of many social problems, such as terrorism.[112][113][114] Some evangelical denominations have adopted neutral positions, leaving the choice to local churches to decide for same-sex marriage.[115][116] Some churches have a moderate position.[117] Although they do not approve homosexual practices, they show sympathy and respect for homosexuals.[118] A 2011 Pew Research Center study found that 84 percent of evangelical leaders surveyed believed homosexuality should be discouraged.[119]

Other views

For a majority of evangelical Christians, a belief in biblical inerrancy ensures that the miracles described in the Bible are still relevant and may be present in the life of the believer.[120][121] Healings, academic or professional successes, the birth of a child after several attempts, the end of an addiction, etc., would be tangible examples of God's intervention with the faith and prayer, by the Holy Spirit.[122] In the 1980s, the neo-charismatic movement re-emphasized miracles and faith healing.[123] In certain churches, a special place is thus reserved for faith healings with laying on of hands during worship services or for evangelization campaigns.[124][125] Faith healing or divine healing is considered to be an inheritance of Jesus acquired by his death and resurrection.[126]

Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, United States

In terms of science and the origin of the earth and human life, some evangelicals support pseudoscientific young Earth creationism.[127] For example, Answers in Genesis, founded in Australia in 1986, is an evangelical organization that defends this thesis.[128] In 2007, it founded the Creation Museum in Petersburg, in Kentucky[129] and in 2016 the Ark Encounter in Williamstown.[130] Since the end of the 20th century, literalist creationism has been abandoned by some evangelicals in favor of intelligent design.[131] For example, the think tank Discovery Institute, established in 1991 in Seattle, defends this thesis.[132] Other evangelicals who accept the scientific consensus on evolution and the age of Earth believe in theistic evolution or evolutionary creation—the notion that God used the process of evolution to create life; a Christian organization that espouses this view is the BioLogos Foundation.[133]

Evangelicalism Beliefs articles: 130

Diversity

Show on the life of Jesus at Igreja da Cidade, affiliated to the Brazilian Baptist Convention, in São José dos Campos, Brazil, 2017
Together for the Gospel, an evangelical pastors' conference held biennially. A panel discussion with (from left to right) Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, and Mark Dever.

As a trans-denominational movement, evangelicalism occurs in nearly every Protestant denomination and tradition. The Reformed, Baptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Churches of Christ, Plymouth Brethren, charismatic Protestant, and nondenominational Protestant traditions have all had strong influence within contemporary evangelicalism.[134][4] Some Anabaptist denominations (such as the Brethren Church)[135] are evangelical, and some Lutherans self-identify as evangelicals. There are also evangelical Anglicans.[136]

In the early 20th century, evangelical influence declined within mainline Protestantism and Christian fundamentalism developed as a distinct religious movement. Between 1950 and 2000 a mainstream evangelical consensus developed that sought to be more inclusive and more culturally relevant than fundamentalism while maintaining conservative Protestant teaching. According to Brian Stanley, professor of world Christianity, this new postwar consensus is termed neo-evangelicalism, the new evangelicalism, or simply evangelicalism in the United States, while in Great Britain and in other English-speaking countries, it is commonly termed conservative evangelicalism. Over the years, less-conservative evangelicals have challenged this mainstream consensus to varying degrees. Such movements have been classified by a variety of labels, such as progressive, open, post-conservative, and post-evangelical.[137]

Some commentators have complained that Evangelicalism as a movement is too broad and its definition too vague to be of any practical value. Theologian Donald Dayton has called for a "moratorium" on use of the term.[138] Historian D. G. Hart has also argued that "evangelicalism needs to be relinquished as a religious identity because it does not exist".[139]

Christian fundamentalism

Fundamentalism[140] regards biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth of Jesus, penal substitutionary atonement, the literal resurrection of Christ, and the Second Coming of Christ as fundamental Christian doctrines.[141] Fundamentalism arose among evangelicals in the 1920s to combat modernist or liberal theology in mainline Protestant churches. Failing to reform the mainline churches, fundamentalists separated from them and established their own churches, refusing to participate in ecumenical organizations such as the National Council of Churches (founded in 1950). They also made separatism (rigid separation from non-fundamentalist churches and their culture) a true test of faith. According to historian George Marsden, most fundamentalists are Baptists and dispensationalist.[142]

Mainstream varieties

The Prayer Book of 1662 included the Thirty-Nine Articles emphasized by evangelical Anglicans.

Mainstream evangelicalism is historically divided between two main orientations: confessionalism and revivalism. These two streams have been critical of each other. Confessional evangelicals have been suspicious of unguarded religious experience, while revivalist evangelicals have been critical of overly intellectual teaching that (they suspect) stifles vibrant spirituality.[143] In an effort to broaden their appeal, many contemporary evangelical congregations intentionally avoid identifying with any single form of evangelicalism. These "generic evangelicals" are usually theologically and socially conservative, but their churches often present themselves as nondenominational (or, if a denominational member, strongly de-emphasizing its ties to such, such as a church name which excludes the denominational name) within the broader evangelical movement.[144]

In the words of Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, confessional evangelicalism refers to "that movement of Christian believers who seek a constant convictional continuity with the theological formulas of the Protestant Reformation". While approving of the evangelical distinctions proposed by Bebbington, confessional evangelicals believe that authentic evangelicalism requires more concrete definition in order to protect the movement from theological liberalism and from heresy. According to confessional evangelicals, subscription to the ecumenical creeds and to the Reformation-era confessions of faith (such as the confessions of the Reformed churches) provides such protection.[145] Confessional evangelicals are represented by conservative Presbyterian churches (emphasizing the Westminster Confession), certain Baptist churches that emphasize historic Baptist confessions such as the Second London Confession, evangelical Anglicans who emphasize the Thirty-Nine Articles (such as in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Australia[146]), Methodist churches that adhere to the Articles of Religion, and some confessional Lutherans with pietistic convictions.[147][136]

The emphasis on historic Protestant orthodoxy among confessional evangelicals stands in direct contrast to an anti-creedal outlook that has exerted its own influence on evangelicalism, particularly among churches strongly affected by revivalism and by pietism. Revivalist evangelicals are represented by some quarters of Methodism, the Wesleyan Holiness churches, the Pentecostal/charismatic churches, some Anabaptist churches, and some Baptists and Presbyterians.[136] Revivalist evangelicals tend to place greater emphasis on religious experience than their confessional counterparts.[143]

Non-conservative varieties

Evangelicals dissatisfied with the movement's conservative mainstream have been variously described as progressive evangelicals, post-conservative evangelicals, Open Evangelicals and post-evangelicals. Progressive evangelicals, also known as the evangelical left, share theological or social views with other progressive Christians while also identifying with evangelicalism. Progressive evangelicals commonly advocate for women's equality, pacifism and social justice.[148]

As described by Baptist theologian Roger E. Olson, post-conservative evangelicalism is a theological school of thought that adheres to the four marks of evangelicalism, while being less rigid and more inclusive of other Christians. According to Olson, post-conservatives believe that doctrinal truth is secondary to spiritual experience shaped by Scripture. Post-conservative evangelicals seek greater dialogue with other Christian traditions and support the development of a multicultural evangelical theology that incorporates the voices of women, racial minorities, and Christians in the developing world. Some post-conservative evangelicals also support open theism and the possibility of near universal salvation.[149]

The term "Open Evangelical" refers to a particular Christian school of thought or churchmanship, primarily in Great Britain (especially in the Church of England). Open evangelicals describe their position as combining a traditional evangelical emphasis on the nature of scriptural authority, the teaching of the ecumenical creeds and other traditional doctrinal teachings, with an approach towards culture and other theological points-of-view which tends to be more inclusive than that taken by other evangelicals. Some open evangelicals aim to take a middle position between conservative and charismatic evangelicals, while others would combine conservative theological emphases with more liberal social positions.[150]

British author Dave Tomlinson coined the phrase post-evangelical to describe a movement comprising various trends of dissatisfaction among evangelicals. Others use the term with comparable intent, often to distinguish evangelicals in the emerging church movement from post-evangelicals and anti-evangelicals. Tomlinson argues that "linguistically, the distinction [between evangelical and post-evangelical] resembles the one that sociologists make between the modern and postmodern eras".[151]

Evangelicalism Diversity articles: 58

History

Background

Evangelicalism emerged in the 18th century,[152] 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 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".[153] Historian Mark Noll adds to this list High Church Anglicanism, which contributed to Evangelicalism a legacy of "rigorous spirituality and innovative organization".[154]

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 against an overly formal and rational Christianity, Pietists advocated for an experiential religion that stressed high moral standards both for clergy and for 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 by evangelicals.[155]

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.[156] 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.[157]

Puritanism combined Calvinism with a doctrine that conversion was a prerequisite for church membership and with an emphasis on the study of Scripture by lay people. It took root in the colonies of New England, where the Congregational church became an established religion. There 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.[158] By the 18th century Puritanism was in decline and many ministers expressed alarm at the loss of religious piety. This concern over declining religious commitment led many people to support evangelical revival.[159]

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 (founded in London in 1698), which distributed Bibles and other literature and built schools, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was founded in England in 1701 to facilitate missionary work in British colonies (especially among colonists in North America). Samuel and Susanna Wesley, the parents of John and Charles Wesley (born 1703 and 1707 respectively), were both devoted advocates of High-Church ideas.[160][161]

18th century

Jonathan Edwards' account of the revival in Northampton was published in 1737 as A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton

In the 1730s, Evangelicalism emerged as a distinct phenomenon out of religious revivals that began in Britain and New England. While religious revivals had occurred within Protestant churches in the past, the evangelical revivals that marked the 18th century were more intense and radical.[162] Evangelical revivalism imbued ordinary men and women with a confidence and enthusiasm for sharing the gospel and converting others outside of the control of established churches, a key discontinuity with the Protestantism of the previous era.[163]

It was developments in the doctrine of assurance that differentiated Evangelicalism from what went before. Bebbington says, "The dynamism of the Evangelical movement was possible only because its adherents were assured in their faith."[164] He goes on:

Whereas the Puritans had held that assurance is rare, late and the fruit of struggle in the experience of believers, the Evangelicals believed it to be general, normally given at conversion and the result of simple acceptance of the gift of God. The consequence of the altered form of the doctrine was a metamorphosis in the nature of popular Protestantism. There was a change in patterns of piety, affecting devotional and practical life in all its departments. The shift, in fact, was responsible for creating in Evangelicalism a new movement and not merely a variation on themes heard since the Reformation.[165]

The first local revival occurred in Northampton, Massachusetts, under the leadership of Congregationalist minister Jonathan Edwards. In the fall of 1734, Edwards preached a sermon series on "Justification By Faith Alone", and the community's response was extraordinary. Signs of religious commitment among the laity increased, especially among the town's young people. The revival ultimately spread to 25 communities in western Massachusetts and central Connecticut until it began to wane by the spring of 1735.[166] Edwards was heavily influenced by Pietism, so much so that one historian has stressed his "American Pietism".[167] One practice clearly copied from European Pietists was the use of small groups divided by age and gender, which met in private homes to conserve and promote the fruits of revival.[168]

At the same time, students at Yale University (at that time Yale College) in New Haven, Connecticut, were also experiencing revival. Among them was Aaron Burr, Sr., who would become a prominent Presbyterian minister and future president of Princeton University. In New Jersey, Gilbert Tennent, another Presbyterian minister, was preaching the evangelical message and urging the Presbyterian Church to stress the necessity of converted ministers.[169]

The spring of 1735 also marked important events in England and Wales. Howell Harris, a Welsh schoolteacher, had a conversion experience on May 25 during a communion service. He described receiving assurance of God's grace after a period of fasting, self-examination, and despair over his sins.[170] Sometime later, Daniel Rowland, the Anglican curate of Llangeitho, Wales, experienced conversion as well. Both men began preaching the evangelical message to large audiences, becoming leaders of the Welsh Methodist revival.[171] At about the same time that Harris experienced conversion in Wales, George Whitefield was converted at Oxford University after his own prolonged spiritual crisis. Whitefield later remarked, "About this time God was pleased to enlighten my soul, and bring me into the knowledge of His free grace, and the necessity of being justified in His sight by faith only".[172]

When forbidden from preaching from the pulpits of parish churches, John Wesley began open-air preaching.

Whitefield's fellow Holy Club member and spiritual mentor, Charles Wesley, reported an evangelical conversion in 1738.[171] In the same week, Charles' brother and future founder of Methodism, John Wesley was also converted after a long period of inward struggle. During this spiritual crisis, John Wesley was directly influenced by Pietism. Two years before his conversion, Wesley had traveled to the newly established colony of Georgia as a missionary for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. He shared his voyage with a group of Moravian Brethren led by August Gottlieb Spangenberg. The Moravians' faith and piety deeply impressed Wesley, especially their belief that it was a normal part of Christian life to have an assurance of one's salvation.[173] Wesley recounted the following exchange with Spangenberg on February 7, 1736:

[Spangenberg] said, "My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?" I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He observed it, and asked, "Do you know Jesus Christ?" I paused, and said, "I know he is the Savior of the world." "True," he replied, "but do you know he has saved you?" I answered, "I hope he has died to save me." He only added, "Do you know yourself?" I said, "I do." But I fear they were vain words.[174]

Wesley finally received the assurance he had been searching for at a meeting of a religious society in London. While listening to a reading from Martin Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans, Wesley felt spiritually transformed:

About a quarter before nine, while [the speaker] was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.[175]

Pietism continued to influence Wesley, who had translated 33 Pietist hymns from German to English. Numerous German Pietist hymns became part of the English Evangelical repertoire.[176] By 1737, Whitefield had become a national celebrity in England where his preaching drew large crowds, especially in London where the Fetter Lane Society had become a center of evangelical activity.[177] Whitfield joined forces with Edwards to "fan the flame of revival" in the Thirteen Colonies in 1739–40. Soon the First Great Awakening stirred Protestants throughout America.[171]

Evangelical preachers emphasized personal salvation and piety more than ritual and tradition. Pamphlets and printed sermons crisscrossed the Atlantic, encouraging the revivalists.[178] The Awakening resulted from powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of deep personal revelation of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ. Pulling away from ritual and ceremony, the Great Awakening made Christianity intensely personal to the average person by fostering a deep sense of spiritual conviction and redemption, and by encouraging introspection and a commitment to a new standard of personal morality. It reached people who were already church members. It changed their rituals, their piety and their self-awareness. To the evangelical imperatives of Reformation Protestantism, 18th century American Christians added emphases on divine outpourings of the Holy Spirit and conversions that implanted within new believers an intense love for God. Revivals encapsulated those hallmarks and forwarded the newly created Evangelicalism into the early republic.[179]

By the 1790s, the Evangelical party in the Church of England remained a small minority but were not without influence. John Newton and Joseph Milner were influential evangelical clerics. Evangelical clergy networked together through societies such as the Eclectic Society in London and the Elland Society in Yorkshire.[180] The Old Dissenter denominations (the Baptists, Congregationalists and Quakers) were falling under evangelical influence, with the Baptists most affected and Quakers the least. Evangelical ministers dissatisfied with both Anglicanism and Methodism often chose to work within these churches.[181] In the 1790s, all of these evangelical groups, including the Anglicans, were Calvinist in orientation.[182]

Methodism (the "New Dissent") was the most visible expression of evangelicalism by the end of the 18th century. The Wesleyan Methodists boasted around 70,000 members throughout the British Isles, in addition to the Calvinistic Methodists in Wales and the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, which was organized under George Whitefield's influence. The Wesleyan Methodists, however, were still nominally affiliated with the Church of England and would not completely separate until 1795, four years after Wesley's death. The Wesleyan Methodist Church's Arminianism distinguished it from the other evangelical groups.[183]

At the same time, evangelicals were an important faction within the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Influential ministers included John Erskine, Henry Wellwood Moncrieff and Stevenson Macgill. The church's General Assembly, however, was controlled by the Moderate Party, and evangelicals were involved in the First and Second Secessions from the national church during the 18th century.[184]

19th century

The start of the 19th century saw an increase in missionary work and many of the major missionary societies were founded around this time (see Timeline of Christian missions). Both the Evangelical and