Monday, November 22, 2004

Evangelicalism, in a strictly lexical, but rarely used sense, refers to all things that are implied in belief that Jesus Christ is the savior. To be evangelical would then mean to be merely Christian - that is, founded upon, motivated by, acting in agreement with, or in some other way identified with το ευαγγελιον : the good news, the Gospel of salvation given to Man in Jesus Christ.However, this most general definition of Evangelicalism is hardly ever the intended meaning in religious discourse. When it is granted by Catholics, for example, that only Protestantism is Evangelicalism, it is not in the lexical sense that this concession is made, any more than the appellation of "Baptist" concedes that only the Baptists have legitimate baptism. Rather, their teaching is called Evangelicalism because it is upon the issue of the preaching of the Gospel, the evangel, that the critics of the Pope and of the Catholic magisterium wished to differentiate themselves. A Catholic layman may even insist on being Catholic, rather than being Christian in a sense identical to being evangelical (just as an Evangelical may deny being catholic or orthodox) - so much have some terms become identified with one side or the other, in controversies which divide Christians, especially since the Reformation.
Evangelical was the originally preferred term of self-description for the teachings and culture which arose in Protestant churches ("the Evangelical churches") of the Reformation. This relatively older Evangelicalism was, for a while, identical with Protestantism. The word is still used in this sense in Europe, and in some Lutheran churches such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
milf.Modern Evangelicalism also draws roots from the Wesleyan Revival. Possibly Charles Wesley, brother of the more famous John Wesley, has had as much influence through his hymns, which crossed denominational lines through congregational singing, and became a part of the theology of many Christians. Another hymn writer whose influence still lasts is John Newton, author of Amazing Grace.
In the 19th century, "Evangelicalism" was the revivalism and religiously motivated social activism which typified the Second Great Awakening. In more recent times, the term has been widely used to differentiate conservative Protestantism from liberal Protestantism.


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