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The Beliefnet Guide to Evangelical Christianityby Philip Yancey
Synopses & Reviews
Who Are Evangelicals?
I know a man who resigned from his evangelical church as a result of a youth-sponsored coffee house (it was a fund-raiser for a missions trip). The kids were hosting several youth bands, and one of them played that Mick Jagger classic "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." That same night, two middle-aged women who'd grown up on the Stones bobbed, weaved, and clapped hands overhead like something out of Woodstock. They too considered themselves evangelicals. Full disclosure: I was one of those two women.
The point being, as with every mode of religious expression on the American landscape, evangelical Christianity has its contradictions and champions, saints and sinners, workhorses and weirdos. There is not one "bloc" of the American population that fits into a category called evangelicalism. Evangelicals can be white, African-American, Asian, or Hispanic. There are the educated and the uneducated; the rich, the middle, and the under-class; the tax-paying upright citizens; the down-and-out drug addicts and prostitutes; the right-wing conservatives and left-wing liberals. It is better to think of evangelicalism as a river carrying life-giving water to its many branches and streams.
The individuals who inhabit the landscape may come and go. But the river remains, a mystical life force that nourishes otherwise disparate groups and, in a way, holds them together. When today's inhabitants are gone, the river will do the same for those yet to dwell upon the land.
It can, and does, get messy when a mighty river cuts through the crags of everyday life. For believing evangelicals, the source of the river abides in absolutes. But this results in complications. First, evangelicals themselves do not agree upon the interpretation of these absolutes; and second, they desire so sincerely to obey the mandates of faith that they sometimes take irrevocable stands for or against things with the best of intentions. The man who left the church because of Mick Jagger's song did right by his convictions. The rocking, dancing women expressed God-given delight over great music. In their minds they were responding as King David himself did when the Ark of the Covenant was carried to Jerusalem: Let's rock and roll
"The lyrics are Augustinian," I later commented to my fellow rocker, upon learning of the man's antipathy. St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions (a work widely cited by evangelicals): "You made us for Yourself, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in You." Compare: "I've tried, and I've tried, and I've tried, and I've tried . . . I can't get no satisfaction." In Augustinian terms, Mick Jagger makes perfect sense.
Evangelicals tend to make such justifications. They feel the need to make sense of the culture in theological terms. This can be problematic. The world and even God himself sometimes do not make sense. That is one challenge for evangelicals.
Another challenge is dealing with the negative stereotypes perceived by the public--of evangelicals as right-wing extremists; nerdy Ned Flanders types; sourpuss puffy-haired church ladies; or pasty-faced soft-bellied television Bible thumpers. A survey taken by pollster George Barna in December 2003 noted that Americans generally disliked evangelicals more than any other social sector, except for prostitutes, whom they edged out by only a sl
A critical study of evangelical Christianity provides an analysis of evangelical beliefs and practices, traces the history of the movement, and refutes common misconceptions about the faith and its followers.
Has Evangelical Christianity become a political entity?
What is the difference between “evangelical” and “evangelism”?
Do evangelicals literally believe the Bible?
Thirty-five percent of Americans today are evangelical Christians, yet many people are uncertain of what that term actually means. The Beliefnet® Guide to Evangelical Christianity offers a clear, unbiased description of evangelical beliefs and practices—including how they have changed throughout history and what they are now. It also dispels many current misconceptions about this faith group and its followers.
The Beliefnet® Guide to Evangelical Christianity addresses topics such as evangelical Christians’ approach to the accuracy of the Bible, their relationship with Jesus Christ, and the connection to conservative politics. Its nuts-and-bolts approach will appeal both to evangelicals who want to know more about the history of their religion and community and to general readers who want to understand the rise of evangelicalism over the past decades.
From the premier source of information on religion and spirituality, the Beliefnet® Guides introduce you to the major traditions, leaders, and issues of faith in the world today.
Table of Contents
Who are Evangelicals? — The big questions — What's the news? — Who will get left behind? — Historical forebears — The twentieth century : the assault on belief and the Evangelical-fundamentalist split — Evangelicals and culture — Politics past, present, and future — Conclusion: "Until they rest in God."
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Religion » Christianity » Church History » General