This week’s readings were intriguing and intimidating. Intriguing because I have a very cursory understanding of The Evangelical Movement and even less of an awareness of its historical effect on my personal faith. I am generally not much of a people pleaser except when it comes to people that I have respect for, so to read Dr. Jason Paul Clark’s “Evangelism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship,”  was a challenge. This together with David W. Bebbington’s historical account of Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A history from the 1730s to the 1980s , catapulted this Catholic girl back to memories of going to play at the Pentecostal neighbor’s home only to discover they only had Bible games. This steep learning curve to define, understand, and comprehend Evangelicalism in terms of my own faith journey and ministry revealed that I was not an Evangelical, I became an Evangelical, I have been ministering in the land void of Evangelicals, and although I have been shaped by Evangelicalism, I am some sort of hybrid.
Jason Paul Clark is a scholar, pastor of a local congregation, committed to equipping church leadership. His is currently a professor and lead mentor at Portland Seminary, regional and national leader for Vineyard Churches of the United Kingdom and has been involved the Emergent Church Movement. Dr. Clark’s scholarship is revealed in the lines he draws between Bebbington’s historical accounts of Evangelism, particularly assurances and the influence of Capitalism on the spread and evolution of Evangelism.
David Bebbington’s background in historical research is evident in his thorough account and explanation of The Evangelical Movement. He crafts a word map from Evangelicalism’s emergence, deviations, adaptations and influences on numerous denominations up to the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Bebbington describes four main attributes of Evangelicalism that have the test of time, conversionism, biblicism, activism, and crucicentrism. Bebbington defines conversionism as the idea of a changed life as one’s encounter with Jesus. The second characteristic is that of biblicism or the importance of the written word of God, particularly over sacraments. Thirdly, activism in terms of believers actively sharing their faith. This has taken various forms over time, for example, foreign missions, social helps, and evangelistic crusades. Finally, the importance of Christ’s work on the cross to redeem humanity from the consequences of sin. While all four of the definitions of these traits have morphed over time they remain as identifiers of Evangelism.
My journey of faith was rooted in the culture and practices of a Catholic family. Similar to the spiritually restlessness of a pre-Reformation believer or Evangelical I had grown intolerant with the “discrepancy between…doctrine and…liturgy,” and was in search of a connection with My journey of faith was rooted in the culture and practices of a Catholic family. Similar to the spiritually restlessness of a pre-Reformation believer or Evangelical I had grown intolerant with the “discrepancy between…doctrine and…liturgy ,” and was in search of a connection with
God that embodied something more than rituals and rules. The neighborhood of my childhood included the radically, Pentecostal family, the Lutheran pastor’s family, and my best friend was the daughter of the Baptist pastor. I can see how they all embodied some aspects of Evangelistic Movement . The activism of the Pentecostal family brought a number of neighbors to conversion decision that transformed their lives. It was not until I encountered a group of Ecumenical  young adults who volunteered  relationally share their faith through community and creativity  that I gradually came to a point of decisive submission to the lordship of Jesus . However, my prayer would not have fit those posed by most evangelists.
The transformation that ensued was immediately visible to everyone within in my world, as it released me from barriers, I did not know existed to be the person I knew I was meant to be. This experience also birthed me into an Evangelical world of immersion into God’s Word and Christian activism, together with full on Pentecostal experiences.
I was far more comfortable wrapping my evangelistic activism in the context of relationship. Although, I participated in Billy Graham Crusades, door to door out reaches, and the more aggressive evangelization tactic of erupting into a stranger’s world with a salvation tract, I always wrestle with the transitionary sales pitch that was often involved . For me it seemed insincere and presumptuous.
Fast forward to my ministry field. Poland, one of the most actively practicing Catholic countries in the world. The joke was on this Evangelical who had become vehemently opposed to the Catholic Church and all its trappings. I have seen how the unrelentless grip on the strict adherence to the Evangelical tenets of conversionism, biblicism, activism, and crucicentrism can needlessly divide, resulting in persecution and the destruction of families. The emergence of the Moravian Evangelism strongly impacted Poland, to the degree that a treaty had to be written to accommodate the large number of Evangelical that lived in the Silesia area (see the Churches of Peace) . There is the statue in the Old City of Krakow of St. Peter Skarga , the Jesuit zealot who was instrumental in staving off the Reformation in the mid-16th Century. His image is in a small square across from the only Protestant building in the Old City as a reminder that Catholic is the religion of the land. The age of religious persecution that existed only eventuated the strength of these beliefs. Guess who had to change. The one aspect of my Evangelicalism that has grown stronger is a reliance on the Word of God.
I have discovered that the strength and weakness of any ism is in the moral character and values of the individual. The life is far more complex than definitions that are assigned to our religious associations. For me it is in the simplicity of the life of Jesus that I find a way through the differences of individuals to a place of mutual learning and compassion. One of the weaknesses of Evangelism in my mind is that emphasis on specific means of conversion, activism, that result in a transactional assurance that can become uncertain or threatened by an opposing point of view. If my assurance is in my personal experiential relationship with my Creator, it is difficult discount or cause doubt. I wonder what the Evangelical church would look like if more decisions were made from a position of security in God’s care and provision, even it does not fulfill the glitter of the current culture.
Some of the questions that I continue to wrestle with Evangelism are:
•The seeming presumption that the entirety of the harvest rests on the evangelistic effort of believers. Where is the God’s role in this? Why would God go to all the effort of restoring a relationship with humanity only to not be in a partner role for further redemption?
• Could the anxieties of Christians be a result of meaningful trust relationship with their Creator?
• How does one develop and encourage a heart for the hurting and lost that is compassion driven and in partnership with the Holy Spirit?
 Jason Paul Clark, “Evangelism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship” (Faculty Publications – Portland Seminary, 2018), https:// digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/gfes/132.
 David Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, Transferred to digital printing (London: Routledge, 2005).
 Ibid., 9.
 Ibid., 3, 5-17.
 Ibid., 255-259.
 Clark, “Evangelism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship,” 57.
 David Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain., 243-244.
 Ibid., 8.
 Clark, “Evangelism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship,” 56.
 Unknown, “Churches of Peace,” Discover Poland (blog), n.d., https://www.discoverpoland.travel/event/churches-of-peace.
 Stanislaw Tarnowski, “Peter Skarga,”, In The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York:  Robert Appleton, 1912), https://www.biblia.work/dictionaries/skarga-peter/.