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Evangelicalism a Definition


For those of you who like this sort of thing, there is a fairly workable definition of Evangelicalism in an essay by Marcia Pally,
For the purposes of this essay, American evangelicalism is an approach to Protestantism across denominations, its central features including: the search for a renewal of faith toward an “inner” personal relationship with Jesus; the mission to bring others to this sort of personal relationship; the cross as a symbol of not only salvation but also of service to others; individual acceptance of Jesus’ gift of redemption; individualist Bible reading by ordinary men and women; and the priesthood of all believers independent of ecclesiastical or state authorities. It was a progressive movement from the colonial era to World War One. Its emphasis on individual conscience made it anti-elitist, anti-authoritarian, economically populist, and socially activist on behalf of the common man. Twice in the twentieth century, evangelicals turned to the right, the second time in the late 1970s, when they became a central pillar in the modern conservative movement.


I particularly liked the bit I underlined, which is why I underlined it of course!


It is this heritage that makes Evangelical still a palatable label for me despite its frequent association with fundamentalism in the minds of many. Until recent decades in the UK evangelicals were much more likely to be aligned with the political left than the right, although what they do now I have no idea.


I still like Stott's definition the best though,

An evangelical is a plain, ordinary Christian. We stand in the mainstream of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. So we can recite the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed without crossing our fingers. We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.

You can click through to hear a lecture by the late Stott here, as well as read more about his understanding of evangelicalism.

Let me know what you think :-)

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