spirit of evangelicalism has waxed and waned throughout recorded church history.
The work of the pioneering apostolic church, as recorded in the Bible book of
Acts, illustrates its deep commitment also to evangelicalism, missionary zeal
and strict discipline. These core aspects are, in principle, common with many
engaged in contemporary evangelicalism. Evangelicalism has regained its voice,
although quavering at times, since its apostolic inauguration. Wearing different
hats, its proselytising thread has remained.
post apostolic times, medieval preachers like Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)
and Peter Waldo (1150–1218), preceded the pre-Reformation stalwarts: Thomas
Bradwardine (c1290–1349): Wycliffe (c1329–1384) and the Lollards: Johan Hus
(c1371–1415): Savonarola (1442–1498): Thomas Bilney (1495–1531): Thomas
Cranmer (1489–1556): Hugh Latimer (c1485–1555): John Hooper (c1500–1555)
and the Brethren of the Common Life (c15th century). The Reformation and
post-Reformation Christians, Martin Luther (1483–1556): Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531):
and John Calvin (1509 – 1564): John Wesley (1703–1791): Charles Wesley (1707–1788):
George Whitfield (1714–1770):Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) were
amongst those pre-20th
Christians who ably, amidst great controversy laid the basis for, and thus
pioneered, evangelicalism. Notable too were the influences of the English and
American Puritans and the less known Separatists of the 16th
Public executions, rabid persecution, torture, and burning at the Stake at the
hands of praying and devout clergy and their representatives, befell some.
Religiously fuelled mob violence accompanied by murder and mayhem stalked
cobbled streets, cloisters and forests.
the reprehensible religious crimes committed by the Roman Catholic Church, in
the name of their
are historically verifiable, let us not forget that the Protestant wing of the
Church committed equally heinous religious atrocities
in the name of their
Indeed, a veritable tit-for-tat seesawing of
religiously structured horror and mayhem! Human nature’s expanding propensity
for evil and to be able to separate theologically structured precepts from the
warp and woof of everyday living is especially marked in all religions.
played host to further developments within evangelicalism’s forays into the
world. It is not this book’s purpose to dwell on the minutiae of that
expansion. One of the confusing but revealing growth areas however, was in the
fragmentation and formalising of the evangelical movement into further bitterly
opposing factions viz. the Charismatic, the Reformed, the Arminian, the Liberal,
the neo-Evangelical and the New Theology plus an army of scattered independent
groups. Grist for another book – not this one!
and disunity between evangelical groups are endemic. A similar situation was a
cause of concern for the Apostle Paul (the presumed author of 1 Corinthians)
where he wrote about those who sect-like follow their leaders (instead of their
Savour) and thus make a mockery of the unity of the body of their Christ35.
It would appear that despite the teaching of their divinely inspired writings,
Christians (including evangelicals) are just not able to take their Bible’s
teaching seriously, when applied to their bread
and butter practicalities
of faith. The fragmentation remains, and personality-led groups continue to claw
and fight their way to positions of power and eminence. This raises the question
… how can those who disregard their own teachings and knowingly live outside
the parameters of their dogma, expect others to take proselytizing Bible verses
to heart. Most confusing and, if I were an informed seeker, most unsettling. If
you have the mind so to do, read an example of this scenario on The
Veritas Project website36.
renaissance of today’s Evangelicalism grew out of the explosive and throbbing
changes emanating from the 16th century Protestant Reformation movement. On 31
October 1517, in a theological rejection of Roman Catholic teachings and
practices, the maverick Roman Catholic monk, Martin Luther (1483–1546),
challenged the all-powerful Papal hierarchy. His chutzpah
to his eventual excommunication, the founding of the Lutheran denomination and
the birth of Protestantism – the Protestant Reformation. The term evangelical
the Lutherans bent on their mission to redirect Christianity to sola
Scriptura … more
accurately, to Luther’s
we at this point in the foundation era surrounding the re-awakening of
evangelicalism, turn our full attention to Germany’s Martin Luther? Luther,
during his early life was subject to episodes of deep depression. His spiritual
beliefs could not assuage his many dark
nights of the soul.
It would appear that his religious faith was apparently not effective in healing
that painful area of his troubled psyche. Did much of his overt activity help
compensate for, and deal with, his sad depressive episodes? Karen Armstrong’s
pen pictures of Luther help to contextualise further this unique and
his epic, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, William Shrirer writes
also of Luther’s negative impact on the German nation: “Through his sermons
and his magnificent translations of the Bible, Luther … aroused in the people
not only a new Protestant vision of Christianity but a fervent German
nationalism and taught them, at least in religion, the supremacy of the
individual conscience. But tragically for them, Luther’s siding with the
princes on the peasant uprising,which he had largely inspired, and his passion
for political autocracy ensured a mindless and provincial absolutism [that]
reduced the majority of the German people to poverty, to a horrible torpor and a
demeaning subservience … [sharpening] the divisions not only between classes
but also … doomed for centuries the possibility of the unification of Germany38".
is important to our understanding of evangelicalism that we see the Reformation
movement in context. Martin Luther did not only inspire other great theologians
and command a following of many lay individuals, thus giving birth to
evangelical Protestantism, but he impelled the then politically unsettled
Germany also towards a rumbling revival of historic anti-Semitism.
the centuries, Martin Luther has earned the rapt attention and recorded
admiration of many, not the least being Adolf Hitler and other fellow Nazis who
espoused Luther’s overtly expressed anti-Semitic views.
midwife had been singularly unsuccessful in converting Jews to his Christ during
early days of evangelistic zeal. Is that why he subsequently turn nasty?
He advocated arson to burn down their synagogues and homes, wanted to disallow
their rabbis from praying or teaching, and requested that the State intervene to
rid of them. They
were the killers of his Christ and were therefore fit subjects for slaughter.
behaviour, whilst easily explained in an in-humane and savage
remains a source of serious concern when considering his Biblically enmeshed
life and undoubtedly prayerful commitment to his God. It would appear though
that he epitomised the harsh practices of the Old Testament in his callous
tunnel vision determination to exterminate those identified as the chosen
he base his philosophy on the recorded acts of his Biblical God? Did he
illustrate the impotence of theology to reign in the duality of human nature?
Hitler’s Mein Kampf listed Luther as being amongst the greatest reformers39.
Of interest is the information in Johah Goldhagen’s book, Hitler’s
after the infamous Nazi-inspired Kristallnacht,
“One leading Protestant churchman, Bishop Martin Sasse published a compendium
of Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic vitriol … he applauded theburning of the
synagogues … he urged [the German people] to heed these words of the greatest
anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews40".
logic derived not from science or reason. Was he reacting to yet another
rejection? The Papal sceptre had summarily excommunicated him, and then the Jews
had spurned his attempts to convert them. May we assume that he believed that
his God approved of his actions – had he received a call
from his God to encourage such atrocities and planned genocide?
History records the acknowledgement of many Nazi leaders in acknowledging
respectfully Martin Luther’s despising
of the Jew. Notable
amongst them were: Walter Buch, the head of the Nazi Party court who also
initiated the purging of homosexuals from the Party. After WWII he was sentenced
to five years in a labour camp. Eventually, declassified as a war criminal, he
Hans Hinkel, a Nazi official working in Goebbels’s Reich Chamber of Culture
drew his inspiration from Luther by stating, “Through his acts and his
spiritual attitude he began the fight [that] we still wage today; with Luther’s
German blood [the] feeling against the alien elements of the Volk
Others linked to Luther’s racist and xenophobic philosophies were: Eric Koch,
the Reich Commissioner for Ukraine and President of the East Prussian Protestant
Church Synod, Bernard Rust who served as Minister of Education in Nazi Germany,
Hans Schemm, the Bavarian Minister of Education and Culture whose slogan was “Our
religion is Christ, our Politics Fatherland” (sic).
Julius Streicher, the vitriolic publisher of Der
when asked at the Nuremberg Trials if there were any other German publications
that treated the Jews in the same way as his newspaper, replied, “Dr Martin
Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendant’s dock today”.
He then went on to mention Luther’s publication, “The Jews and their Lies”.
Streicher reportedly took twelve minutes to die at the end of Nuremberg’s rope
the day that Jews celebrate their God’s judgement on the fate of humanity for
the ensuing year.
as a born
aged 60, wrote his infamous, “On Jews and their lies” in 1543. Predictably,
many modern-day Lutheran scholars attempt to dig Luther out of his gravely
horrendous anti-Semitism but they cannot honestly divorce historical facts from
the man. Of greater concern is the fact that Luther’s dogma was expounded in
the name of his God and Lord Jesus Christ. It would appear that his “inspiring
writings” gave added force to the persecution of Jews43.
One can but wonder where the omnipotent Jehovah was hiding during this vitriolic
attack on the Jewish people. Is this the same God owned by the “Jews for Jesus”
and other evangelical bodies seeking to convert Jews? Is this the Adonai44
Hebrew devotion who, for example, allowed the Russian, Spanish and Nazi pogroms
an aside we need to recognize that, historically, anti-Semitism had found favour
under John Chrysostom (AD347–407). This revered Christian monk is amongst the
greatest of Roman Catholic saints. This saint’s
eight homilies exude his strongly held dislike and hatred of Jews45.
How does this tie up with his apparently sincere prayers and devotion to the
divinity who so loved the world that he gave his only born son …46"?
synoptically contextualised evangelicalism’s historical foundations, let us
now proceed to view its representation of Christianity. We will note the overtly
judgemental, discriminatory harshness of the Luther era in many modern
portrayals of evangelicalism. For example, sectors of the evangelical communion
in the past apartheid
Africa had appealed also to its Protestant Bible to support its racist policies47.
Not only amongst divisions within the Dutch Reformed denominations but also
amongst others. In the world’s largest democracy, the United States of
America, an abhorrent racist stigma was entrenched in evangelicalism’s Bible
thumping Deep South constituencies (and elsewhere).
let us return to Luther’s 16th
Reformation. It was of European extraction, and did not migrate to the Orthodox
Russian community or find a nest amongst the remnant of the members of the
Byzantine Christian Church in Greece. Evidences of its influence are not easy to
find in other advanced civilisations of Eurasia. The many selective inroads of
the divine being into only certain areas of his creative genius remain a source
of mystery. Equal Opportunity legislation challenges the statute books of YHWH’s
code of ethics. For example, male circumcision marked out his elect. Those not
circumcised were not on the list of the chosen ones. The cutting edge into
Adonai’s covenant relationship was available for a mere snip – nothing more
and nothing less. Ladies first?
Covenant theologians and others within evangelicalism’s fold paralleled the
Roman Catholic ritual replacing the religiously wielded Hebrew knife with water.
In this religious ceremony of great importance, a child (happily, girls are now
included!), is subjected willy
being either sprinkled with holy water, having water poured over their head or
swiftly dunked and voila
are children of God. Adults are also included as appropriate. Indeed, Houdini
would be greatly impressed – if not challenged – but more about Christian magic
Happily, though, there is no possible genital mutilation of either gender –
even in this era of cutting-edge technology. Christopher Hitchens has written a
thought-provoking chapter on circumcision rituals – it is well
Reformation irrevocably split Christendom and affected political and social
changes in European society during its founding 16th
Luther’s Ninety-Five Thesis, hastily published without his permission, became
an instant best seller. The newly spawned and religiously tailored Deutsche
search engine, with viscous precision, began its probing advance to the four
corners of the globe. Except for the unaffected Baltic Lands, it left in its
wake, death, murder, schism, pain, distress, joy, happiness, controversial
theological changes and confusion, thus gabling the world with yet another
religious dimension. The voice of the protesting
evangelical Protestantism, had been born
unsuccessful Counter-Reformation (Gegenreformation)
Germany did not avert the bloody axe that soon divided families, neighbours,
bodies, cities and kingdoms and swiftly, with cold, callous and dictatorial
precision decapitated also the then Church-sanctioned version of the centuries’
old and accepted pre-Reformation Holy Bible (Jerome’s, Latin Vulgate). It lost
its place as being the only God-inspired source of the Church universal. Can we
assume that the divinity behind that
had carelessly, willingly, or negligently, but knowingly allowed countless
numbers of Christians to follow an incorrect version of his instructions during
the first CE millennium?
German scholar and reformer, Philipp Melanchthon (Luther’s associate at
Wittenberg) submitted his Confessio
to the Emperor in the hope of a return to the Catholic Church. This was not to
be and the controversial divide between the established and newly spawned
Christian group became part of history. His efforts and the attempts of others
did not achieve reconciliation with Rome. Melanchthon’s work was to form the
basis of the Lutheran denominational creed. Their entrepreneurial restructuring
of the new theology effectively divided and shattered an already bubbling
cauldron of divisive religious faith, reportedly corrupt practices, and
contentious Christian dogma. Some sixteen centuries of rulings by Church
councils, praying Christians and inspired
was, in one era, swiftly abrogated. The Christian steed, evangelicalism, was
saddled and ready to ride – and it did. The new kid on the block, Martin
Luther, galloped roughshod over previous church council rulings. He inspired and
led a truly dramatic theological U-turn. Luther and Melanchthon changed forever
the purported, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” image of the then
become the modern-day global movement, evangelicalism owed its resurgence to
which also under the influenceof the militant colonising exploits of Great
Britain and the United States, established bases across the world. Roman
Catholic pioneer missionary zeal soon faced the competitive challenges of
evangelicalism’s thrusts into the world of the heathens
many missionary endeavours often piggybacked initially on politically inspired
colonisation that heralded also the bearing of trumpeted, though questionable,
European Christians labelled
in Africa and elsewhere as pagans and savages – and the tags stuck until their
gummy subjectivity began peeling off in the face of scholarship and humane
and prior to the Reformation, Christianity, hidden also in the scabbards of the
armies of sword-bearing emissaries, in the name of their Christ, crusaded50
all and any who did not love the Christian Lord and God of peace. They
plundered, murdered and raped those whose religion emanated from the same
Bible-based ancestral figure, Abraham. The Spanish Conquistadores51
planted the Cross of their Christ firmly into the violated bodies of the
thousands representing a proud and ancient civilisation, decimating further
their numbers by spreading not only their Gospel but also venereal and other
In the pursuit of wealth, power, prestige, increasing trade and bringing their
salvation message to heathens (sic),
Spain had extended its political power and the Gospel of peace and salvation
whilst hacking its way into the bloodied and mutilated bodies of the indigenous
inhabitants of the invaded lands.
the years, Evangelicalism’s missionaries have trespassed uninvited into the
privately evolving domains of civilisations that were different.
so doing, cultures were shredded and westernised dogma began to litter muddy
streets, occupy thatched houses and disturb tranquil forests. Totem poles gave
way to steeples. Suits and ties replaced loin skins and amulets. Religious
cloning à la westernisation’s tailor-made ideology was in vogue. Egotism
paraded also under the guise of missionary zeal – a carefully crafted
catechism of religious fanaticism, steeped in the mistaken and tragically
misguided belief that their
being had commissioned them and their actions, barged insensitively over
indigenous moral and ethical codes. Controversy, schism, blood, bigotry and
mayhem, with rabid determination, brought the light
of the world to
many in heathen darkness (sic).
Martyrs were born whilst the people labelled as savages (sic)
Christianised (or colonised)! Missionaries prayerfully forsook their own needy
homelands to convert and, in so doing, escaped the responsibilities of ensuring
that their own country was evangelised. The green grass on the foreign mission
field gave pale-skinned bearers of the Good News open fields in which to share
their message. Gullible converts, relatively uneducated and uninitiated in
westernised critical thought and analysis capitulated to the new religion. Many
missionary children, exported to boarding schools to enable their parents to serve
still bear scars of the forced separation from those with whom they should have
bonded. Not a very good illustrative example of what their
Bible instructs about family life. It was on the foreign field of missionary
endeavour that many otherwise ineffectual foreigners achieved ego boosts,
recognition, and folklore status. Any resistance to both the missionary and
their message was deemed as demonic
Was serious thought given to the often rapacious manner in which the arrogantly
perceived ignorance of the local population was exploited in the name of a
highly suspect way,
truth and life concept?
against the bulwark of traditional Christianity, evangelicalism formed an
eclectically packaged challenge to decaying religious formalism per
Evangelicalism, overtly appealing to the Protestant Bible in all matters
pertaining to faith and doctrine, claimed to have under their God, restored true
Biblical Christianity to the world and within the Church.
Christianity is the world’s fastest-growing religious movement … there are
645 million evangelicals in the world, about 11% of the world’s population …
the movement is growing 3.5 times faster than the world population, and
Pentecostal and [many] Charismatic churches are growing 4.5 times faster ...
that makes evangelical Christianity the fastest-growing major religious group
and the only movement growing significantly through [the conversion ritual]
addition of “conversion ritual” is emphasised. Evangelicalism is defined and
confined only within the echoes of the “born again54”
been a source of controversy, and the precise relationship or distinction
between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism56
often in dispute, where some of the more liberal Protestants often oppose the
use of Evangelical to refer only to the strict “Bible thumping”
Fundamentalists. This book draws no such distinction and accepts that the
evangelical sector of the Church (found in mainline and other formally
established groups), includes also those termed as Fundamentalists. Whilst
splitting hairs may be fundamental to theological purists and apologists, it is
unnecessary to embellish further the coiffure of dogma-structured hairdressing
in this book.
abound in sincere attempts to classify formal and informal groupings but,
predictably, categorisation remains difficult – evangelicals swim in the same
muddy rivulet spawned from the Protestant-led Reformation – albeit gravitating
to their own cloistered, turbulent pools. Evangelicals derive from every social
stratum and touch the lives of many. From the illiterate across to the well
evangelicalism’s missionary endeavours are in the main directed at the
obviously more vulnerable and psychologically conditioned “poor and needy”,
its appeal deflects also to those on the upper rungs of society’s ladder. For
example, the publicised Christian experiences of one of the highest profile
politicians of contemporary evangelicalism’s “born again57”
group, the 43rd
of the United States of America, George W Bush58,
bears the fruit of their Bible’s message. He is one of those classified as a
living letter, seen and read by everyone59.
significance is the recorded fact that George W Bush’s evangelically
supportive God told him to go to war against Iraq. Bush declared also that he
had given up the drinking of any alcohol because of his “being saved60”.
His ally, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, echoing statements from his
friend George Bush, “Has proclaimed that God will judge whether he was right
to order British troops to Iraq”. Contradicting
warnings from advisers not to mix politics and religion, the [British] Prime
Minister said that his involvement in politics sprang from his Christianity, and
its ‘values and philosophy’ had guided him in public life61".
It would appear, however, that the resulting cocktail of evangelicalism and
reality does not mix well, whether shaken politically or stirred evangelically.
Apparently, Iraq cost Blair his job – so much for the call of God to public
office and subsequent guidance to intercontinental warmongering.
army of ardently praying converts demonstrates Evangelicalism’s hotline to
their God. President Bush heard from God, as indeed did Oral Roberts who stated
that God would kill him if he did not raise a total amount of $8 million by 1
March 1987. His army of supporters rallied and he received his full amount (and
lived to tell the tale)62.
What mystifies is the fact that Roberts’s God should resort to what could be
termed as manipulative blackmail or threats rather than miraculously “[supplying]
all [his] needs63”.
We can but wonder about the early experiences of parenting that many have had
and what impressionable role their father figure played. How an unbeliever could
be convinced to love
the Lord your God with all your heart knowing
that if they did not, then zap,
strike and you are out is indeed a double whammy! Mind you, the United Kingdom’s
Dick Turpin swung from the end of a judicial rope for his notorious “stand and
deliver, or else …” modus operandi.
an aside, we can only attempt to empathise with those many innocent men, women
and children whose conscription as collateral
damage victims in
Iraq lifted again the veil on the USA-led My Lai horror in Vietnam.
it be in order to enquire what Iraqis thought about their
God telling Bush and Blair to invade unilaterally their
resulting in the tragic repetitively maiming and murder of people (civilians) by
divinely sent destructively superior foreign firepower? Would Iraqis seek this
same God as the one whom the Christians want them to embrace through his son,
Jesus Christ? Do the Imams of Islam concur with George Bush’s divinely given
instructions? Have evangelicals replaced the sword with the bullet, bomb, the
CIA and related organisations that seemingly came up with incorrect intelligence
euphemistically framed construct, occupation,
than aggressive invasion
the united and powerful British-American duo, draws a most interesting parallel
with the Nazi-led coup into Poland in 1939 … a cynical use of spin indeed! The
Iraq debacle will continue to haunt the political corridors of nations for
decades to come – all because the divine being gave evangelicalism’s George
Bush (and Tony Blair – the poodle64),
bullying psychopathic actions of the Iraqi dictator, the executed Saddam
Hussein, replicated much Stalinist and Hitlerian behaviour. His ghastly regime,
paralleled also in many other infamous and recent historical occurrences,
including reports about the notorious Guantanamo Bay65
sickens. What kind of parenting have so many past and present dictators had?
American-British axis controversially declared war on Iraq (based on flawed
intelligence – Bush’s God slipped up somewhat). Despite thorough
investigative efforts, no weapons of mass destruction have emerged. The official
reasons for the invasion remain confused. The freshly bloodied pages of history
drip with blood, gore and shattered masonry as the result of one of
evangelicalism’s prodigies declaring, “Thus says the Lord!” Interestingly,
there are numerous occasions in the Bible when leaders made decisions and
committed barbarous acts in the name of their God – who alone had given them
explicit instructions; but more of this later on our journey.
destruction of Iraq using sanctioned weapons of destruction has rattled the
democratic cages of many. Does Iraqi oil have significance on the Monopoly board
of power and global domination? Let us not forget that this all began when
evangelicalism’s trophy of Grace, President Bush, obeyed the voice of his God
– followed by Britain’s, God-led Tony Blair.
again, did Gott
Mit Uns on
the buckles of soldiers’ belts give divine credence from Prussian to Nazi
times? Does the USA’s In
God We Trust phrase
ring true or is it also a counterfeit exchange of superstitious mumbo jumbo –
a written amulet? It would appear that to ask the question, “whose
needs prior definition.
recent vintage is the reported comment of Pat Robertson who regularly shares
has told him. He is reported to have said that God had told him there was going
to be a mass terrorist attack in September 2007, but that God had not told him
if it was going to be a nuclear assault, although he thought this was a
Robertson has an interesting record of public statements (including those of
divine origin). He has reportedly said, “I have a relatively good track record
… sometimes I miss67”.
Do others give such revelatory “hit and miss” information? Is it the
messenger, or the originator of the message, who is confused? It would be
interesting to know in whom else God confided this nuclear threat. Would the
United Nations or the American government have known about this divine warning
– or was the good Reverend the specially chosen medium? Please note Chapter 5’s
comments about this kind of “prophetic” practice.
individuals claim that God
told them to
do whatever as a defence in a homicide this is defined as a hallucination, and
they are incarcerated to protect society from further harm. However, when a
religious person declares that their God has told them to start a religion, make
a pronouncement about an issue or invade a country that is not a problem at all.
As Professor Richard Dawkins concisely writes, “Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire
Ripper, distinctly heard the voice of Jesus telling him to kill women, and he
was locked up for life. George W Bush says that God told him to invade Iraq (a
pity God didn’t vouchsafe him a revelation that there were no weapons of mass
“God told me” concept lays the field wide open to further confusion. For
example, the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH), reportedly received the holy
Quran, the sacred book of Islam, by direct revelation from the angel of God.
Christian apologists dismiss Islam’s source of authority on those grounds (as
well as other reasons) but within the Christian Bible, there are numerous
accounts of “revelatory” occurrences where Daniel and Paul join others from
Genesis through to the book of Revelation. Is this another instance of the sooty
Christian pot calling the Islamic kettle black? Scholars reveal that many events
recorded in their Bible and the Quran differ. The devout followers of each
religion revere their holy book – yet there are differences … emanating from
the same almighty, all seeing and all knowing God.
similar vein, Joseph Smith the founder of the Mormon Church received divine
revelations from his God. These gave his creative revelation, the Book of
Mormon, access to open and unquestioned publication plus accreditation. CC
Clark Julius chronicles succinctly the truly amazing account of Joseph Smith
and, in addition to the publications read and cited in the Bibliography, his
insights are well worth reading69.
spectrum of dreams and visions, when attired in the robes of religion are
always taken seriously by the conditioned faithful. If, however, the pious
religious mantle is absent then “voices” are interpreted as a psychosis,
hallucinations or whatever else. This discriminatory dichotomy demands serious
consideration, does it not.
1942, the voice of moderate and conservative Protestantism adopted the term Evangelical
created the National Association of Evangelicals in the USA. In 1951, the World
Evangelical Fellowship was born – the latter reviving an international body
formed under Britain‘s Evangelical Alliance (founded in 1846). Eventually,
after three years of consultation, the Evangelical Alliance (UK), part of the
World Evangelical Alliance70,
agreed in September 2005, its own revised creed, and adopted a fresh Basis of
Faith adding, for good measure, the noun, justice.
The latter inclusion no doubt fully satisfied evangelicals espousing the social
dimensions of the previously heavenly-minded
of traditional evangelicalism. In general, this Statement of Belief would
enshrine the majority views of most evangelicals. It is not the purpose of the
book to comment on their eleven statements but merely to set out the clear
boundaries of evangelicalism’s stall.
believe in... 71
The one true God who lives eternally in three persons – the Father,
the Son and the Holy
The love, grace and sovereignty of God in creating, sustaining, ruling,
redeeming and judging the world.
The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New
Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God – fully
trustworthy for faith and conduct.
The dignity of all people, made male and female in God’s image to
love, be holy and care for creation, yet corrupted by sin, which
incurs divine wrath and judgement.
The incarnation of God’s eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ – born
of the [Virgin72
truly divine and truly human, yet without sin.
The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross: dying in our place,
paying the price of sin and defeating evil, so reconciling us with
The bodily resurrection of Christ, the first fruit of our resurrection;
his ascension to the Father, and his reign and mediation as the only
Saviour of the world.
The justification of sinners solely by the grace of God through faith
The ministry of God the Holy Spirit, who leads us to repentance,
unites us with Christ through new birth, empowers our discipleship
and enables our witness.
The Church, the body of Christ both local and universal, the
priesthood of all believers given life by the Spirit and endowed with
the Spirit’s gifts to worship God and proclaim the gospel, promoting
justice and love.
The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes
of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to
the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a
new heaven and new earth”.
pins its colours to the Christian mast. Its core values, carefully structured on
the Protestant versions of their Bible and their declared inerrancy, radiate
outwards. The need to teach the Scriptures, evangelise, and care in Christ’s
name are expected actions from all truly committed witnesses of the Gospel.
Their source of authority being Sola
formal Protestant versions of their Bible), is its database.
acceptance of the supreme authority of the Protestant versions of the Holy Bible
in all matters pertaining to faith and morals, and following strict orthodoxy in
its crafted catechism of subjectively viewed cardinal doctrines, is not
negotiable. Endorsing a pre-critical literal interpretation and understanding of
their Bible is the clearly informed modus operandi of most literate, illiterate
and committed evangelicals73.
in obedience to, and fulfilment of, the Gospel mandate, “Go into the entire
world to preach the Gospel …74”
firmly accepts that it has the responsibility to warn all sinners to repent and
receive personally their Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. This introduces a
competitive element into their globally directed proselytising, creating
unending friction and rivalry without and within other Christian denominations
and non-Christian religious groups, where what is termed sheep
abounds. The power
as a major part of their marketing equation, is in evidence.
“is the movement in modern Christianity, transcending denominational and
confessional boundaries that emphasise conformity to the basic tenets of [their
interpretation of the Christian] faith [plus] a missionary outreach of
compassion and urgency. A
person who identifies with it is an ‘evangelical’, one who believes and
proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ. The
word is derived from the Greek noun euangelion, translated as glad tidings, good
or joyful news, or gospel (a derivative of the Middle English godspell, a
discourse or story about God), and verb euangelizomai, to announce good tidings
of or to proclaim as good news. These appear nearly one hundred times in the NT
and have passed into modern languages through the Latin equivalent, evangelium.
Biblically the gospel is defined in 1 Cor. 15:1–4 as the message that Christ
died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day in fulfillment of
the prophetic Scriptures and thereby provided the way of redemption for sinful
humanity. Three times the NT calls one who preaches the gospel an euangelistes
The roots of evangelicalism nestle in the Protestant Bible and its openly
unambiguous teaching; “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he
commands all people everywhere to repent76”.
emphasises the urgent need for all sinners to make a God-inspired but personal
commitment to Christ (to be “born again78”).
The need to repent cognitively as a sinner, turning from sin and embracing their
Lord Jesus Christ as personal and only divine Saviour is the bed-rock of
authentic evangelical theology ... based on their Protestant Bible.
is wedded to the Protestant Bible. The evolving versions (initiated by Wycliffe,
Tyndale and ultimately, Luther’s Bible) remain the foundation for faith and
practice for all evangelicals. Subsequent revisions have delivered the current
selection of Bibles to well-stocked shelves. However, there are problems with
this. Not, as we might expect only from non-believers and us unbelievers but
from amongst those who believe. The accuracy of Biblical compilation and its
interpretation remain the elusive Pimpernels within the mercurial company of
modern-day evangelicals. These issues receive attention later in this book.
growth, influence, and internal developments of evangelicalism on the North
American continent differed markedly from that in the British Isles; those
journeys are subjects for another book. However, in the United Kingdom, during
the late 19th
evangelicalism shuddered, almost to a halt. Materialism, free thought-inspired
individualism, and Darwinian theories began to jostle for positions of
prominence in the corridors of dogma. People faced the challenge to think
outside their conditioned and controlling clergy-catechism-dominated boxes. The
higher criticism of German philosophers, secularly educated intellectuals;
Freudian posits; Marxist-Leninist socialism; Nietzschean nihilism, and the fresh
appeals of naturalism (the emerging science) had almost succeeded in undermining
rampant superstition, sentiment and the previously unchallenged confidence in
the infallibility of their Bible and soundness of the supernatural. World Wars I
and II had left deep scars and the weary God
of Battles whose
impotent reactions to the invoked blessings by the combatant protagonists were
being shelved as an irrelevancy – after all, whose side had he been on? The
demolition of unsafe buildings was inevitable – the bombs of the Luftwaffe and
the rockets of Werner von Braun had gouged huge craters out of historically
layered land. Homes, and other buildings were irreparably damaged. Mirrored in
war swooned the dogma of a crumbling Church with its torn wallpaper of
irrelevant dogma – including evangelicalism.
fresh minefields of extra-Biblical
stunned the dogma-crippled Church. In the United Kingdom, for example,
bombed-out church buildings reflected the shattered belief structures of much 20th
Christianity. The theological rumblings subsequent to WWI exploded into post
World War II. There was, thereafter, a dramatic turnabout in the family of the
Church and amongst evangelicals. The evangelical renaissance of the active
foreign missionary took on fresh impetus, blossomed, and soon revitalized the
tired Church. Diversionary tactics won the day, as the era of introspection
found compensatory fulfillment in changing the lives and destinies of those heathen
there” – after all, they
ignorant of the many enlightened challenges that were causing the Church to
stumble. The relatively uninitiated overseas pagan
became an attractive and inviting alternative. In fact, the beleaguered Church
had rediscovered its commitment to evangelise.
and by default, however, it subsequently discriminated against its home base and
neglected the pitted highways and byways that were in dire need on its own
doorstep. Bible Institutes and colleges blossomed forth to became the Protestant
versions of Vatican-like citadels for starry-eyed young evangelicals preparing
to reach out to the many lost in heathen
there any heathens
cheek by jowl alongside the colleges and Institutes?
era of patronising service also took hold. Interestingly, the cunning subterfuge
engaged often meant that soul-saving missionaries would register their given
credentials as doctors, nurses, and teachers to get foreign visa authorisation
to work in countries where the practice and presence of Christianity was not
encouraged. Once there, of course, and with clever chameleon-like ability, they
would then diplomatically also evangelise their dependent target group and soon
the home-based bodies of supporters would be regaled with stories about Bible
studies with newly won converts. The climate of religious cloak
and dagger intrigue
would result also in financial support. The pioneering Bible smuggling
enterprise, undertaken by Brother Andrew79
defiance of the Chinese government, drew the rapt attention and involvement of
the evangelical world. Despite the dogma that all rulers and laws are God-sent
(regardless of whom or what they might be)80,
Brother Andrew reported on his border violations in the clandestine world of
smuggling Bibles into communist China. Note, please, the subtlety of the
end justifies the
as we will focus on this later in the book.
in sheep’s clothing or sheep in … ? We are beginning to encounter the
amazing chameleon-like behaviour common to evangelical belief and practice? Let
us keep our eye on the chameleon … she and her entourage, the hissing snake,
spider and web will be travelling with us!
writes, “By 1930, there were at least fifty fundamentalist Bible Colleges in
the United States … during the depression years, another twenty-six were
founded and the fundamentalist Wheaton College, in Illinois, was the fastest
growing liberal arts college in the United States ... fundamentalists also
formed their own publishing and broadcasting empires … when television arrived
during the 1950s, the young Billy Graham, Rex Humbard, and Oral Roberts began
their ministries as ‘televangelists’81"
a working definition of the variously used term “fundamentalist” please
refer to this footnote82.
It is important to attempt to clarify the term. Otherwise used in a variety of
contexts … in this book it applies only to yet another group within the
segmented company of believers within evangelicalism.
and university students were evangelised and movements such as the Inter Varsity
Fellowship (established in the 19th
and Scripture Union (founded in the 19th
expanded and grew.
introduced the youthful Billy Graham to the world. Many British evangelicals
found his “loud and decorative ties somewhat offputting83”.
Conservative evangelicalism regrouped and united. Foremost in the renaissance
were the National Evangelical Anglican Congress and the German based Conference
of Confessing Fellowships. The USA-led National Association of Evangelicals
(1942), the Fuller Theological Seminary (1947), and Christianity Today (1956)
were significant expressions of what the Congregational minister, Harold J
Ockenga, (6 June 1905 – 8 February 1985) entitled the “new evangelicalism”.
Dear me … how many colours can a chameleon have?
was at this point that the on-going tussles between dogma versus practice began
to shake evangelicalism’s structure. However, that is the subject of another
book. Emerging from the rancour and sad divisiveness generated by the praying,
sincere Bible believing Christian fundamentalists and ardent conservative
the acceptance of the social dimensions of their Gospel. The use of human
intellect, the value of culture and Revd Billy Graham’s well-motivated Berlin
centred World Congress on Evangelism (1966) and the renowned Lausanne
International Congress on World Evangelization (1974) opened the arteries for
progressive evangelicalism. Those events, the World Evangelical Fellowship, and
the new regional organisations formed by evangelicals in Europe, Africa, Asia
and Latin America, did much to foster closer relations and cooperative efforts
in evangelism, relief work, and fresh theological development. These movements,
plus the sending of new missionaries from
World countries, transformed evangelicalism into a recognised and spanking new
began to flourish and with its growth came the need to address some of its
hitherto worrying anomalies. One such was the interpretation of the Protestant
Bible. Let us now enter, briefly, the cathedral of creative theology where
sacred depositaries were opened, tomes dusted down and scholarly works digested.
The pews on opposite sides of the aisles comprise Reformed, Calvinistic,
Wesleyan, Arminian, Pentecostal, Orthodox, and Darby’s creative
Dispensationalist theology. There are other groupings too, but for the purposes
of this visit, they remain closeted in the vestry and choir stalls.
NOTES: CHAPTER 1
34 Duke of Wellington –
attributed to him. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
35 The Bible. 1 Corinthians
37 Armstrong, Karen. The
Battle For God; Harper Perennial pages 64–67, 71–78.
38 Shrirer, William J, The
Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon and Schuster (1960).
39 Hitler, A. Mein Kampf.
Complete and Unabridged Fully Annotated Editorial Sponsors
John Chamberlain Sidney B. Fay
John Gunther Carlton J. H. Hayes Graham Hutton
Alvin Johnson William L.
Langer Walter Millis Raoul de Roussy de Sales George N.
Shuster . Reynal &
Hitchcock 1939 New York. Page 287.
41 Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Buch.
43 Walker J. Martin. Luther’s
Dirty Little Book: On The Jews and their Lies. http://
44 Hebrew meaning is “Lord”.
See Catholic Encyclopedia at http://www.newadvent.org/
45 Medieval Sourcebook: Saint
John Chrysostom (347–407) Eight Homilies Against The
46 The Bible. John 3.16.
47 The Bible. Genesis 9.
48 Hitchens C. God is not
Great, Chapter 16. Atlantic Books. ISBN 978–1-84354–586–6.
50 The number of Crusades are
between 8 (Catholic Encyclopaedia from 1095–1270 http:/
but could be 11. See also http://
51 (meaning “Conqueror” in
the Spanish language) is the term used to refer to the soldiers,
explorers, and adventurers who
brought much of the Americas and Asia Pacific under
Spanish colonial rule between
the 15th and 17th centuries, starting with the 1492
settlement established in the
modern-day Bahamas by Christopher Columbus. http://
52 Emerging Infectious
Diseases Volume 2 Number 4 http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/
53 John Mark Studies –
Evangelical Christianity – http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/49.htm.
54 The Bible. John 3.
55 Evangelicalism http://mb-soft.com/believe/text/evangeli.htm.
56 Christian Fundamentalism
57 The Bible. John 3.
58 George W Bush http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/g/georgewbush.htm.
59 The Bible. 2 Corinthians
60 Harris P. The Observer, 2
November 2003, introducing “The Faith of George W Bush”
by Stephen Mansfield”.
61 Independent On Line edition
4 March 2006, http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/
62 Oral Roberts http://www.ondoctrine.com/10robero.htm.
63 The Bible. Philippians
64 The Nation 4 May 2005
65 See http://www.avaaz.org/en/close_guantanamo
and Ricken Patel – Avaaz.org
66 Tennesean.com http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/R/
68 Dawkins, Richard. The God
Delusion Bantam Press 2006, ISBN 9780593055498.
69 CC Clark Julius MPS. Joseph
70 World Evangelical Alliance
71 Christian Today http://www.christiantoday.com/news/church/
72 The original had virgin
Mary but I have replaced the lower case v by adding the upper
73 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse
74 The Bible. Matthew 28.
75 RV Pierard (Elwell
76 The Bible. Acts 17.30.
77 Micah Challenge http://micahchallenge.org/Christians_Poverty_and_Justice/97.asp.
78 The Bible. John 3.
79 Andrew B and Jansen A.
Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN-10: 0 340 86272 6.
80 The Bible. Romans 13.
83 Anecdotal – from personal
experience and debates around his worldly dress.
84 See Chapter 1 – neo evangelicals.
Benedict Copyright © 2007
All rights reserved
Posted upon Ex-Minister.org
July 13, 2009