One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief


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The Second Great Awakening which actually began in was primarily an American revivalist movement and resulted in substantial growth of the Methodist and Baptist churches. Charles Grandison Finney was an important preacher of this period. In the late 19th century, the revivalist Holiness movement , based on the doctrine of "entire sanctification," took a more extreme form in rural America and Canada, where it ultimately broke away from institutional Methodism. In urban Britain the Holiness message was less exclusive and censorious. John Nelson Darby was a 19th-century Irish Anglican minister who devised modern dispensationalism , an innovative Protestant theological interpretation of the Bible that was incorporated in the development of modern evangelicalism.

Cyrus Scofield further promoted the influence of dispensationalism through the explanatory notes to his Scofield Reference Bible. According to scholar Mark S. Sweetnam, who takes a cultural studies perspective, dispensationalism can be defined in terms of its Evangelicalism, its insistence on the literal interpretation of Scripture, its recognition of stages in God's dealings with humanity, its expectation of the imminent return of Christ to rapture His saints, and its focus on both apocalypticism and premillennialism.

In the latter half of the 19th century, Dwight L. Moody of Chicago became a notable evangelical figure. His powerful preaching reached very large audiences.

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An advanced theological perspective came from the Princeton Theologians from the s to the s, such as Charles Hodge , Archibald Alexander and B. By the s, most American Protestants belonged to evangelical denominations, except for the high church Episcopalians and German Lutherans. In the early 20th century, a divide opened up between the fundamentalists and the mainline Protestant denominations, chiefly over the inerrancy of the Bible.

The fundamentalists were those evangelicals who sought to defend their religious traditions, and feared that modern scientific leanings were leading away from the truth. After , evangelicalism was dominated by the fundamentalists , who rejected liberal theology and emphasized the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Evangelicals held the view that the modernist and liberal parties in the Protestant churches had surrendered their heritage as Evangelicals by accommodating the views and values of secularism.

At the same time, the modernists criticized fundamentalists for their separatism and their rejection of the Social Gospel.


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A favored mode of fighting back against liberalism was to prohibit the teaching of Darwinism or macro-evolution as fact in the public schools, a movement that reached its peak in the Scopes Trial of , and resumed in the s. The more modernistic Protestants largely abandoned the term "evangelical" and tolerated evolutionary theories in modern science and even in Biblical studies.

During and after World War II, evangelicals increasingly organized, and expanded their vision to include the entire world. There was a great expansion of Evangelical activity within the United States, "a revival of revivalism. At the same time, a split developed between evangelicals, as they disagreed among themselves about how a Christian ought to respond to an unbelieving world.

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As Kenneth Kantzer put it at the time, the name fundamentalist had become "an embarrassment instead of a badge of honor". In —43, the Old-Fashioned Revival Hour had a record-setting national radio audience. The fundamentalists saw the evangelicals as often being too concerned about social acceptance and intellectual respectability, and being too accommodating to a perverse generation that needed correction. The term neo-evangelicalism was coined by Harold Ockenga in to identify a distinct movement within self-identified fundamentalist Christianity at the time, especially in the English-speaking world.

It described the mood of positivism and non-militancy that characterized that generation. The new generation of evangelicals set as their goal to abandon a militant Bible stance. Instead, they would pursue dialogue, intellectualism, non-judgmentalism, and appeasement. They further called for an increased application of the gospel to the sociological, political, and economic areas. The self-identified fundamentalists also cooperated in separating their "neo-Evangelical" opponents from the fundamentalist name, by increasingly seeking to distinguish themselves from the more open group, whom they often characterized derogatorily by Ockenga's term, "neo-Evangelical" or just evangelical.

More dramatic than the divisions and newfound organization within Evangelicalism was the its expansion of international missionary activity. They had enthusiasm and self-confidence after the national victory in the world war. Many evangelicals came from poor rural districts, but wartime and postwar prosperity dramatically increased the funding resources available for missionary work.


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  6. While mainline Protestant denominations cut back on their missionary activities, from to overseas workers between and , the evangelicals increased their career foreign missionary force from 12, in to 35, in The most active denominations were the Assemblies of God, which nearly tripled from missionaries in to in , and the United Pentecostal Church International , formed in The Southern Baptists more than doubled from to , as did the Church of the Nazarene from 88 to After Nazi Germany and fascist Japan had been destroyed, the newly mobilized evangelicals were now prepared to combat atheistic communism, secularism, Darwinism, liberalism, Catholicism, and in overseas missions paganism.

    The Charismatic Movement began in the s and resulted in Pentecostal theology and practice being introduced into many mainline denominations. The closing years of the 20th century saw controversial postmodern influences entering some parts of evangelicalism, particularly with the emerging church movement.

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    There are three senses in which the term "evangelical" is used today at the beginning of the 21st-century. The first is to view "evangelical" as all Christians who affirm a few key doctrines and practical emphases. British historian David Bebbington approaches evangelicalism from this direction and notes four specific hallmarks of evangelical religion: conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

    A second sense is to look at evangelicalism as an organic group of movements and religious tradition.

    Within this context "evangelical" denotes a style as much as a set of beliefs. As a result, groups such as black Baptists and Dutch Reformed Churches, Mennonites and Pentecostals, Catholic charismatics and Southern Baptists all come under the evangelical umbrella, thus demonstrating just how diverse the movement really is. A third sense of the term is as the self-ascribed label for a coalition that arose during the Second World War.

    This group came into being as a reaction against the perceived anti-intellectual, separatist, belligerent nature of the fundamentalist movement in the s and s. Importantly, its core personalities like Harold John Ockenga and Billy Graham , institutions for instance, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College , and organizations such as the National Association of Evangelicals and Youth for Christ have played a pivotal role in giving the wider movement a sense of cohesion that extends beyond these "card-carrying" evangelicals.

    John C. Green , a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life , used polling data to separate evangelicals into three broad camps, which he labels as traditionalist , centrist and modernist : [50]. Anywhere from 6 percent to 35 percent of the population is evangelical, depending on definition. The latter figures are based on a study of the self-described religious identification of the adult population for and from the Graduate School and University Center at the City University of New York.

    The movement is highly diverse and encompasses a vast number of people.

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    Because the group is diverse, not all of them use the same terminology for beliefs. For instance, several recent studies and surveys by sociologists and political scientists that utilize more complex definitional parameters have estimated the number of evangelicals in the U. The National Association of Evangelicals is a U. Evangelical political influence in America was first evident in the s with movements such as the prohibition movement , which closed saloons and taverns in state after state until it succeeded nationally in Evangelical political activists are not all on the right.

    There is a small group of liberal white Evangelicals.

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    The evangelical left or progressive evangelicals are Christians aligned with evangelicalism in the United States who generally function on the left wing of the movement, either politically or theologically or both. While the evangelical left is related to the wider Christian left , those who are part of the latter category are not always viewed as evangelical. Typically, members of the evangelical left affirm the primary tenets of evangelical theology, such as the doctrines of the Incarnation , atonement , and resurrection , and also see the Bible as a primary authority for the Church.

    Unlike many evangelicals, however, those on the evangelical left support what are often considered progressive or left wing political policies. They are often, for example, opposed to capital punishment and supportive of gun control and welfare programs. In many cases, they are also pacifists. Theologically they also often support and utilize modern biblical criticism , whereas more conservative evangelicals reject it. Some promote the legalization of same-sex marriage or protection of access to abortion for the society at large without necessarily endorsing the practice themselves.

    There is considerable dispute over how to even characterize the various segments of the evangelical theological and political spectra, and whether a singular discernible rift between "right" and "left" is oversimplified. However, to the extent that some simplifications are necessary to discuss any complex issue, it is recognized that modern trends like focusing on non-contentious issues like poverty and downplaying hot-button social issues like abortion tend to be key distinctives of the modern "evangelical left" or " emergent church " movement.

    While members of the evangelical left chiefly reside in mainline denominations, they are often heavily influenced by the Anabaptist social tradition. Some evangelical Christians strongly dispute the scientifically accepted Neo-Darwinian theory of evolution and have influenced schools to teach Creationism or " Intelligent design " the position that God or another active intelligence intervened at various points over the course of an otherwise uninterrupted natural evolutionary history to produce the complexity and diversity of life observed on Earth. There have been a variety of court cases over the issue.

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    Not all evangelicals believe that evolution is incompatible with Christianity. Prominent evangelicals such as B. Warfield and Billy Graham believed the theory could be reconciled with Christian teaching. Since , a central issue motivating conservative evangelicals' political activism is abortion. The decision in Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court , which legalized abortion, proved decisive in bringing together Catholics and evangelicals in a political coalition, which became known as the Religious Right when it successfully mobilized its voters behind presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in In the United States, Supreme Court decisions that outlawed organized prayer in school and restricted church-related schools for example, preventing them from engaging in racial discrimination while also receiving a tax exemption also played a role in mobilizing the Religious Right.

    Opponents criticize the Evangelicals, who they say actually want a Christian America—in other words, for America to be a nation in which Christianity is given a privileged position. Many films offer differing views on evangelical, End Times , and Rapture culture. One that offers a revealing view of the mindset of the Calvinist and premillennial dispensationalist element in evangelicalism is Good People Go to Hell, Saved People Go to Heaven.

    One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief
    One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief
    One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief
    One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief
    One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief
    One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief One Nation without God?: The Battle for Christianity in an Age of Unbelief

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