“This book’s main purpose is then to trace the recent history of evangelical churches and evangelical movements while providing a general introduction to the beliefs, practices and characteristic emphases of evangelical Christianity. A second important purpose is to offer a worldwide survey of where evangelical movements have come to exist and of the greatly varying conditions under which evangelicals now carry on their work” (Loc 53, Kindle). To accomplish the intended purpose of this book, we will find three distinct sections in this book:
- Theoretical Issues (Historical and theological background)
- Evangelicalism at Ground Level: Regional Case Studies (surveys of its history)
- Issues in Evangelical Encounters with Culture (cultural issues)
One of the challenges the average reader will find is that this book targets college, university, and seminary students so the vocabulary can seem overwhelming (13). However, this is expected because Donald Lewis (Ph.D.) has published works in the Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, 1730-1860. One of the inconsistencies is that different writing styles allow for some level of boredom while reading. As I gear up for South Africa, it was easier to go online and Google Africa’s history than reading chapter 5. If you are not a numbers guy, you might celebrate the 503 million Christians from the 2008 survey, and ignore the six major sections of that same chapter.
However; I assume the editor assumed such technicality because chapter 6 was very engaging. The average reader will appreciate the definitions in the front of the book because it helps to set the tone (19-25). Mark A. Noll defined terms such as evangelical, Pentecostal, charismatic, fundamentalist, apostolic and indigenous. These definitions are important because it helps to define the terms we use in our Christian traditions before we dive into its historicity. We also learn the four key ingredients that help form the basis of Christianity:
- Conversion: “turning away from self and sin” (234, Kindle)
- The Bible or Biblicism: “the ultimate authority for all matters of faith and religious practices” (234, Kindle)
- Activism: “the work of spreading the message of salvation in Christ” (246, Kindle)
- The Cross or Crucicentrism: This is “the heart of Christian faith is His death on the cross and then the resurrection” (246, Kindle)
The importance of these core values is that it allows flexibility about “nonessentials” (denominational biases or preferences such as gender in ministry) in how evangelicals contextualize the gospel.
Global Evangelicalism is described as a textbook in the opening chapters; each reader will find information covering broad subjects. This book is best used as a reference in oppose to reading straight like a typical chapter book. While the chapters exist, these more follow a theme in oppose to story line so you can read these chapters in any order or simply reference the chapters that interest you. This book allows the church to see a clear picture of its health and future by walking through history, observing its current trends and future but more importantly, it discusses the negative ramification of evangelicalism.
There’s no denying of the obvious growth of evangelicalism and its importance for us to allow ourselves to remain relevant. This book has found a way to compile what one reviewer calls “front-rank historians” the opportunity to offer insights on the evangelical movement. This book is not exhaustive, but it provides an excellent general introduction and a global survey of evangelicalism with leading scholars globally, in oppose to limiting to the United States and Great Britain.