The editor’s at Lord’s Library highlight key Evangelism beliefs and practices, as well as a history of the Christian Evangelical movement.
Whether you ascribe to Evangelicalism beliefs or not, the movement is one of the largest in the history of Christian Church. While some Evangelicalism beliefs and practices are common, others are less so. The history and origin of the movement is complex and varied, and there is no standard Evangelicalism Bible. Some say there is even a connection between Evangelicals and fundamental Christians.
Evangelicalism is a strong, interdenominational movement within Christianity that has and continues to influence the faith in many ways. There’s an estimated 619 million Evangelicals in the world! For that reason, and for many more that we will explore in this resource, Evangelicalism is a Christian theological denomination that can’t be ignored.
Note: This resource on Evangelicalism beliefs is for informational purposes only. Lord's Library recommends Christians to consult their local Evangelical leaders for information on individual church beliefs and practices.
Evangelicalism Definition: Evangelicalism Defined
Evangelicalism is a broad term describing a group within Protestantism who emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In Evangelicalism, that relationship begins when an individual accepts Christ’s free gift of salvation, and they are spiritually reborn. Those who follow this movement are called Evangelicals.
The word evangelicalism come from the Greek words evangelion, meaning “good news,” and evangelizomai, meaning “to proclaim as good news.” That’s precisely why you often hear the Gospel referred to as, “The Good News!” The Good News that Evangelicalism speaks to is summed up perfectly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, which reads:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
That is the basis for which Evangelicalism is built upon.
Evangelicalism Beliefs and Practices
Evangelism beliefs and practices are based upon four key pillars:
- The Bible as the sole authority for faith
- The centrality of atonement
- The call to share the Gospel with others
Conversion is all about being “born again.” This phrase is synonymous with Evangelicalism and comes from Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus in John 3. In verse 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that for one to enter the Kingdom of God, they must be “born again.” What this means is that anyone who is becoming a Christian must surrender their old life to Christ and accept the new identity and purpose He bestows on them. As written in 2 Corinthians 15:7, becoming a Christian involves embracing a clean slate and new identity in Christ.
Next is the belief of the Bible as the sole authority of Christian life and faith, a belief known as Sola Scriptura. Evangelicals hold tightly to the doctrine that the Bible is the sole standard for church practice and belief. This practice arose largely as a response to the the corruption of the pre-reformed Catholic Church.
Also essential to the beliefs of Evangelicalism is the centrality of the atonement; that being the saving death and resurrection of Jesus that offers forgiveness of sins and new life in Him. Christ’s death is seen as a substitutionary atonement, meaning that He took the punishment that we deserve for our sins.
The last pillar is evangelizing. Evangelism refers to the spreading of the Gospel around the whole world. This belief is rooted in The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus commands His disciples to spread the Gospel across the globe:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”
Because of this passage, Evangelicals have a strong focus and passion on sharing their testimony with others and trying to encourage them to join the faith.
Evangelicalism History and Origin
The origins of Evangelicalism are found in the Protestant Reformation. During the time of the Reformation, average citizens gained access to the Bible for the first time. In periods prior, Christians may have only ever heard the Scriptures in church, as access to the Bible was limited only to those in the upper classes. In light of this, Bible truths without the veneer of the popular church were made available to the masses.
While those were the roots of Evangelicalism, it wasn’t until the great revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and America that Evangelicalism officially began as an official movement. Similar to the Reformation, these spiritual revivals brought with them a renewed passion for personal study of the Scriptures. This mindset has continued to this day, with a large majority of Protestants fitting under the broader term of Evangelicalism.
There was no true founder of the Evangelical denomination, and it was birthed from wider movements and is itself an umbrella term covering a broad group of Protestants. It has become so broad, actually, that many see Protestantism and Evangelicalism as one and the same. The following names are ones to know from the Evangelical movement, and played a key role in the denomination growing to the popularity it has today:
- Nicolaus Zinzendorf
- George Fox
- John Wesley
- George Whitefield
- Jonathan Edwards
- Billy Graham
- Bill Bright
- Harold Ockenga
- John Stott
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
Evangelicalism Bible: Do Evangelical Christians Use a Specific Translation?
There are many different Bible translations available today, and Evangelicalism allows the freedom for believers to choose which Bible version is most edifying to their personal faith. Still, a few Bible translations have proved to be the most trusted choices among Evangelicals throughout the years.
The King James Bible has been the longest-lasting and best-selling Bible version of all-time among Evangelicals. Even today, with Bible translations available in language which are much easier to read, many still choose the KJV over more modern translations. It offers rich and vibrant language that still speaks to the hearts of many looking for a genuine experience with God while reading His Word.
As far as more modern translations go, both the New International Version and the English Standard Version are widely used. They both provide easier to read language, but they come from two different translation philosophies. The NIV was birthed from a desire to convey thoughts with flexible wording while the ESV was produced with a focus on being word-for-word wherever possible. Most Evangelicals will choose one of these versions over the other depending upon how they feel personally about the two translation philosophies.
Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism: Is There a Connection?
That Evangelicals and Fundamentalists share a similar view on the Scriptures has many thinking they are the same group. However, they are different. While Fundamentalists can be Evanglical as well, Fundamentalism was founded upon the unwavering belief in Biblical infallibility; a doctrine stating that the Bible in its original form is without error. Many Evangelicals will not subscribe to Fundamental doctrines, believing that human error in interpretation is possible. Fundamentalism is not its own denomination, either. Fundamentalists are found inside a range of different Christian denominations, usually representing a church’s “hard line” that cling tightly to the words written in Scripture.
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