American Evangelicalism: A Very Short Introduction
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s. Its key commitments are: 1) the need for personal conversion (or being "born again"); 2) actively expressing and sharing the gospel; 3) a high regard for biblical authority, especially biblical inerrancy; 4) an emphasis on teachings that proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus. David Bebbington has termed these four distinctive aspects conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism, noting, "Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism."
The contemporary North American usage of the term is influenced by the evangelical/fundamentalist controversy of the early 20th century. Evangelicalism may sometimes be perceived as the middle ground between the theological liberalism of the mainline denominations and the cultural separatism of fundamentalism. Evangelicalism has therefore been described as "the third of the leading strands in American Protestantism, straddl[ing] the divide between fundamentalists and liberals." However, according to Christianity Today, "The emerging movement is a protest against much of evangelicalism as currently practiced. It is post-evangelical in the way that neo-evangelicalism (in the 1950s) was post-fundamentlist. It would not be unfair to call it postmodern evangelicalism." While the North American perception is important to understand the usage of the term, it by no means dominates a wider global view, where the fundamentalist debate was not so influential.
Source: "Evangelicalism." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 Dec. 2010.
Summary: This site
lists the tenets of Evangelical Christianity. These include resurrection, the
Holy Trinity, and the Virgin Birth. This site is the most basic that I have
come across. Every item on the list is simply and succinctly explained. The
writers also included a few beliefs that are “in flux”. These include “fire and
brimstone Hell” and Biblical Inerrancy.
Canadian religious tolerance group sponsors this site. The point of this page
seems to be to clear up misconceptions about Evangelical Christians by
explaining their beliefs simply. While knowing what is correct about a belief
system is important, I would prefer for them to have written a more detailed
description. I rate this page with a 13 out of 18. The site isn’t entirely up
to date, as the last update was in 2008.
Summary: The Grace
Communion International webpage has a very in-depth description of what makes a
person evangelical. This includes the origin of the word (Greek), typical
politics of believers (more conservative), and what makes an evangelical
different from a fundamentalist (education and unity). The writer of this site
lists the specific sections of the Bible that evangelicalism is based on, and
also includes sources at the end of his article that show the divide between
fundamentalism and evangelicalism.
This site is very simple to navigate. Links with drop-down menus are
shown across the top of the page. These include a list of churches that
participate with Grace Communion International, writings on what makes God
“God”, and a history of the original Grace Communion International. I would say
that this site is a reliable source, as it is members of the church writing
about themselves and their beliefs in a non-confrontational manner. This site
earns an 11 out of 18. This is not a
scholarly site; rather it is the page for a specific church that has spread
throughout the nation.
Summary: This page is
the information page for the National Association of Evangelicals. This
organization is based in Washington, D.C, and represents evangelical Christians
around America. The site is easy to navigate, with links across the top of the
screen. These links include the group’s mission statement, their chaplains,
world relief, and they also include a description of what an evangelical is.
Evaluation: This page
is very simplistic in design, which allows for easy navigation. It is subtly
designed, which aids in finding needed information. I appreciate that the
designer and writer of the site attempts to give a message of peaceful
organization, and also that this group seems to be moderate. I support the fact
that they attempt to provide world relief, and promote human rights and aiding
the poor and vulnerable. This site scores an 11 on the rubric scale. It earns
this because it is not a scholarly site, rather it is the website for a
Summary: On this
page, the author analyzes various factors that seemed, to him, to be devolving
Christianity going into the 1980’s. He indicates the Ayatollah Khomeini taking
power, Beijing’s “Democracy Wall” being abolished, and the ideas of Hans Kueng
being found “in contempt” of the Catholic church. He also discusses how
evangelical Christians attempted to “widen the gap” between themselves and
Fundamentalists. Many evangelicals became educated in Christian sciences,
creating a gap between them and uneducated Fundamentalists. At the end of the
article, he discusses how Fundamentalists like Harold O.J. Brown are advocating
a return to traditional values, and he wonders just how many will go with that
purpose of this article on this page is allowing the author to comment on how
Christianity seems to be devolving from educated evangelicals to
Fundamentalists who only practice biblical inerrancy. The strengths of this
website are that it features over 6000 articles on religion, and that the
writers of the articles are very credible. The disadvantages are that the site
looks very basic, as if it hasn’t been updated for many years. The article on
evangelicalism, for example, was written in 1980, and the page it is on looks
very archaic. This site scores an 11 on the rubric’s scale. This is due to
being fairly out of date, and moderated by a singular person.
Summary: This site
provides the base of what became evangelicalism. According to the monk who wrote
this page, the evangelical movement goes back to Martin Luther’s Protestant
Reformation, since the Reformation was intended to be “…a return to a new
Testament ‘Biblical Christianity’”. He then profiles the leaders and
developments of various Christian movements by century, starting in the 1500’s
with Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German, and ending with the
spread of evangelicalism to American Catholics and throughout Asia and Central
A monk named Monk Preston designed and wrote this page. This adds
credibility to the information he presents, although it all comes from a
Catholic perspective. The strength of this page is that the information comes
from a man who has devoted his life to religion. The weakness is that he
doesn’t discuss the topics he presents on the evangelical page; rather, he just
has a timeline with key events and people described. I rate this site 10 out of
Summary: This site
shows the development of American religion from the 1500’s to present day. It
begins with Native American religions and finishes with New Age. The discussion
of evangelicalism shares the fact that many denominations of Christianity
became evangelical in the early days of America. The most successful branch was
the Methodists, as they used lively preaching techniques, the idea of a close
God, and self help in their spreading of the word of God. They also describe
the 20th century evangelical movement, when the ideas became
“…elaborate crusades…” featuring charismatic, energetic preachers such as Billy
Sunday. The write of this site then move on the 1980’s, referencing the
“…personality driven…” evangelism of the 1980’s, and also the trust lost in the
movement due to personal scandals in the lives of Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson,
and Oral Roberts.
Evaluation: As far as
information presented goes, this site is fairly limited. It provides cursory
information about many well-known branches of Christianity, and a touch of
information about Native American beliefs. I have the feeling that this site is
meant to provide a starting ground for research into these topics. This site
earned an 8 on the rubric scale. There is no author listed, and there are many
ads on the site. It does have some useful information, but not enough to be
Summary: This page
deals with the “Great Awakening” in America. It discusses the political
implications of the Great Awakening, and how the idea of questioning the church
led to the idea of questioning the political structure of British colonialism.
What this site suggests is that being filled with religious fervor allowed the
early white Americans to begin to take responsibility.
There is a great amount of information to be found on this site. It
discusses the Great Awakening, which formed the base for evangelicalism. The
writer includes a list of the key figures in the Great Awakening, and how this
Cultural Revolution came about. The writer keeps the site simple in a good way,
with links to the pages of the site on the right hand side. I think that the
weakness of this site is that once again, the information is fairly limited.
The writer doesn't go in-depth enough, and doesn't list his contact information.
He did, however, include a bibliography. This site receives an 8 out of 18.
Summary: This page
shares training methods for evangelizing people. These include biblical verses
to remember, a 7-step system for evangelizing, and an explanation of the
differences between revivalism and evangelism. The writer puts an emphasis on
not tricking or shaming people into attending church. The writer also suggests
using the 7-step system, but not treating evangelism like a 7-step system.
As far as instructions for evangelism go, this site is superior to the
previous one I reviewed. There are very specific instructions listed to
maximize the potential for bringing people to Christianity. They even include
useful, pre-written sermons for evangelizing needs. However, I find it
irrelevant for the creators of this site to have the ideas up for free on the
Internet and also sell a book with the same instructions in it. This site gets
a 7 out of 18. It is basically a business in disguise.
Summary: This site is
a compilation of stories and details about evangelizing Christianity. The most
recent post is an argument for Christians to become full time evangelists,
rather than going out for two or three hours each day after work. This site is
clearly new, as there are only three posts, the earliest being in December
There is not too much to this site. While I think it would be important
for an evangelical to be able to evangelize, there really isn’t much here to
guide them in the right way to go about it. This site is just too un-used. I
rate it seven out of 18. This page is not scholarly at all.
Summary: This site is
a response to the “liberal left. The writer points to the “rewriting of
American history”, the anti-religious educational establishment, and the need
for a restoration of America. The Jeremiah Project, which this page is for, is
a far right extremist Christian organization. On the home page, they make
highly stretched connections of modern events to biblical stories. They also have
links to sections that bash liberal America, calling it the “Trashing of
I feel that this site is fundamentalist beliefs written by someone
claiming to be evangelical. This site uses fear tactics and appeals to
patriotism. For example, on the homepage, the first picture is of one of the
World Trade Center towers blowing up, next to text describing America as
“…deteriorating rapidly”. This site would be a good source for aggressive,
“tough love” Christian information. This site has no author listed, no sources,
and many ads on the sides and top of the page. This site earns a 3 out of 18.
It is not scholarly in the least bit.