Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on January 19, 2017

Evangelism in Modern Britain by Bebbington


Bebbington took on the task to share the history, or the growth of a movement in Britain. He stated that he wanted to present it in two-folds. “to consider the influence of Evangelicals on society; and explore the ways in which Evangelical religion has been molded by its environment.” (location 31,33) He believes the core of evangelism was “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 what may be called crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross”. (2)  Bebbington made many references by Max Warren as he explains these characteristics. He quoted him saying, “I am ‘in Grace’ because I have been converted” (7); and “We evangelicals are Bible people. Secondly, Evangelicals possessed a gospel to proclaim.” (4)  A scripture relating to conversion, Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.”  We as believers are commanded to share the gospel to the world. The Evangelicals believed they were biblically sounded in their views and beliefs.

It was interesting to learn the evangelical’s views when the Holy Spirit was experienced during a Charismatic Worship. “William Arthur had been encouraging his readers to seek an experience with the Holy Spirit.” (153)   The leaders discussed this experience and they all agreed that speaking in tongues was not the first sign of baptism in the Spirit. (229)  But their viewpoints did not stop or deter the experience. “ George Forester, Vicar of St Paul’s, and a group of parishioners received ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit’, started speaking in tongues and began to hold weekly fellowship meetings for the exercise of spiritual gifts.” (153) The scriptures speak about two baptisms: water and the Holy Spirit.  The scripture Acts 2:4 states, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

In my reading other’s reviews, I found a research paper written by Garry J. Williams, titled “Was Evangelicalism Created by the Enlightenment?” His main focus was to challenge Babbington’s position that the “Evangelism activism of the 1730”s was only possible because of a novel doctrine of assurance.” He utilized the writings of John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and John Newton as his evidence. In his conclusion, he believed the Reformation and Puritanism were the authentically Evangelical movement. That movement was a difference of accidents rather than substance.[1]  Adam Szabados, views were similar to Williams’ paper. He too expressed that one could easily argue that the “Reformers and the Puritans were just as much activist as the later Evangelicals because of their strong understanding of Assurance.”[2]  They both do not agree with Babbington’s position that Evangelism was the “novelty”.[3]



[1] Garry J. Williams, Was Evangelicalism Created By The Enlightenment?, http://www.tyndalehouse.com/tynbul/library/TynBull_2002_53_2_08_GWilliams_Evangelicalism.pdf , accessed January 18, 2017, 283 and 313.

[2] Adam Szabados, David Bebbington Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, http://szabadosadam.hu/divinity/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/BEBBINGTON.pdf, access January 18. 2017, 4-5

[3] Ibid., 5.

About the Author

Lynda Gittens

5 responses to “GOING UP HIGHER”

  1. Mary Walker says:

    Lynda, you touch on some really important issues. There is an emphasis on sharing the word of God, but what happens when people have spiritual EXPERIENCES?
    I do not know much of the history of speaking in tongues, but I don’t find it in church history books from post-apostolic times until the Pentecostal movement began.
    I was wondering if you knew why that might be? Was the Holy Spirit remaining silent for some reason? By the way, I am totally with the holiness movement and glad that it is still taken very seriously today. I believe we need a balance between head and heart.
    Great post!

  2. Jim Sabella says:

    Lynda, like you I too am interested in others’ views on the Gifts of the Spirit, especially in an evangelical context. At one time the “gifts” were a dividing point within Evangelical circles. However, today there seems to be more of an ability to at least discuss the gifts. In fact, as of 2015 our brothers and sisters in the Southern Baptist Convention—one of the greatest Christian denominations and missions sending organizations in the world—will admit missionary candidates who speak in tounges in their “private prayer language.”

    My point is, we have so much to learn from each others’ expression of faith, knowledge, and experience. I have learned so much from our Baptist missionary colleagues on the field; their spiritual strength, faith, knowledge, and commitment to world missions is exemplary. They have helped me become a better Christian and missionary. The vast richness of God’s Kingdom is overwhelmingly wonderful. We are living in exciting times for the church and world missions.

  3. Interesting perspective Lynda from the charismatic perspective. I also appreciated your opposing research views to Bebbington. It helps to give a more balanced perspective to the author’s point of view. Great advanced critical thinking skills! Elder would be proud of you!

  4. “Reformers and the Puritans were just as much activist as the later Evangelicals because of their strong understanding of Assurance.”

    It is very interesting point of view. While Evangelicals were motivated by their understanding and application of the doctrine of Assurance, to say that Evangelicals were the unique in that regard can be contested. It is evident that other historians have a different point of view. I am hesitant to give anyone a monopoly on a view point or perspective. Even if it is more prominent and visibly witnessed by one group over others, that doesn’t mean anyone does not share or have applied their own understanding of it just in a different way.

    Lynda great job seeking out others point of view. It is always interesting holding multiple perspectives in tandem to see a much bigger holistic picture of history 🙂

  5. Geoff Lee says:

    Your comments on the Charismatic Movement and Pentecostalism are interesting. In the early days of Pentecostalism, Pentecostals were treated as pariahs by much of evangelicalism. These days, they are very much part of the mainstream evangelical fold. There has been a major movement in the past 100 years in this respect. Much of this can be traced back to the Charismatic renewals in the 60s and 70s in many of the mainline evangelical churches.

Leave a Reply