Over at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight calls upon his readers to reflect on the meaning of that elusive term, “evangelicalism.”
Here are his conclusions:
1. The best definitions of evangelicalism belong to David Bebbington and Mark Noll. McKnight summarizes their view this way:
Evangelicalism is a movement in the Protestant church shaped by differing but clear emphasis on four beliefs: the centrality of the Bible, the centrality of the atoning death of Christ, the centrality of the need for personal conversion, and the centrality of an active mission to convert others and to do good works in society.
2. No one really decides who is an evangelical, but this does not stop others from applying the label.
McKnight then goes on to review David Fitch’s book, The End of Evangelicalism?: Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology.
McKnight’s post has received 68 (and counting) comments from his evangelical readers. While I often read Jesus Creed for Scot’s insights, I read it more for the comments. It always provides me with a great deal of insight into the views of ordinary, educated evangelicals.
Brantley Gasaway says
John, I also read McKnight's blog for this dual purpose–I appreciate (and regularly agree with) his views, and the comments are occasionally insightful, usually civil, and always a good window into the varieties of evangelical perspectives.
His multi-part post on Rob Bell's Love Wins illustrated all these features. In my upper-level seminar tomorrow on “Evangelicalism,” I have a student presenting on the controversy surrounding Bell's book, and I recommended she read through these posts. She is also using an excerpt from McKnight's The Blue Parakeet to illustrate different ways that evangelicals interpret the Bible.
John Fea says
Brantley: Can I come up to Bucknell and audit your class on evangelicalism the next time you teach it?
Brantley Gasaway says
Absolutely, John 🙂 But alas, upper-level seminars are tough to get, so it will likely be another 3 years. And next time I teach my Religion & American Politics class (Fall 2012 since I'll be on leave next Spring), I'll be asking you to come up and talk about “Christian America” after we read your book.