I love the feeling I get after a job well done. It’s like you know you’ve accomplished something good and worthwhile. I think you can sense that in the work of others too. When you look at a good painting, like Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, you just get the feeling of fulfilled accomplishment. I believe Bebbington’s work in Evangelicalism in Modern Britain is much more than just a personal accomplishment. It’s a cultural stalwart of religious history. As I read it, I just kept thinking, “This truly is a job well done”.
Up until Bebbington’s writings, there had not been a recent general scholarly study on the evangelical faith, despite it’s importance in British History Bebbington goes to great lengths to not just define evangelicalism, but to point out it’s many historical, societal, and political contributions throughout it’s development. In fact, Bebbington’s work is so seminal, he is credited with a renowned definition of “evangelical” that has become known as the “Bebbington quadrilateral”. Evangelicalism, as he defines it, finds it’s footing in four main areas, “‘conversionism’, ‘activism’, ‘biblicism’, and ‘crucicentrism'”. Bebbington also seeks to explore the Evangelical faith that was shaped by its environment. He points out that Evangelicalism even threatened to divide community life as the “plebeian population of the eighteenth century” knew it to be.
One of the subjects I found surprisingly interesting was Bebbingtons writings on the 1851 Religious Census. Situated in the chapter on The Growth of the World: Evangelicals and Society in the Nineteenth Century, Bebbington uses census data to walk through the growth and decline of the evangelical movement, as well as how church attendance denoted social classes and structures. At the time of the census, half of the available adult population could be found in a church. In fact, most of the attendance was significantly higher for rural areas and small towns, versus urban areas. Furthermore, “this feature of churchgoing was so marked that it is sometimes suggested that the working classes abstained from Christian worship all together”. Bebbington concludes that a significant factor in the non-churchgoing folks was poverty. In fact, he quotes R.F. Horton, who noted that “It was symptomatic of the barriers to church attendance erected by what a leading Congregational minister called ‘the English caste system'”.
If I’m looking at a general spread across the American religious systems, I would venture a guess that what Bebbington was alluding to in the nineteenth century is probably not that different from today. According to the 2018 Religious census conducted by the Pew Research Center, 58% of those who self select as Evangelical protestants attend church at least once a week. When you consider weekly attendance of those who make less than $30,000 annually, that figure drops to 35%. When you break it down geographically, only 22% of adults living in the West and 13% in the Northeast consider themselves Evangelical Protestants, compared to the 34% in the South.
Despite this books first publishing in 1989, about subject matter relating back England in 1851, it doesn’t look too different from America in 2019. I hope Bebbington feels that 30 years later, his work still resonates with the Evangelical church today, which indeed, is a job well done.
 Robert Clausem, “Book Review,” American Historical Review 96, no 1 (February 1991): 165
 Michael Watts, “Book Review,” The English Historical Review 107, no 424 (July 1992): 747-748
 D.W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London, England: Routledge, 2005), 3
 Ibid., preface
 Ibid., 23
 Ibid., 107
 Ibid., 106
 Ibid., 107
 Ibid., 110
 Ibid., 111
 Ibid., 112
 “Attendance at Religious Services”, Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Forum, accessed Jan. 17, 2019, http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/attendance-at-religious-services/