I have never taken to topic of history with fervor or excitement. Although, it is a subject matter that I deem very important, I am not stirred by diving deeper into it. I do however, have an appreciation and even an admiration for those who do like Dr. David Bebbington, who is a renowned historian. In his book Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A history from the 1730s to the 1980s, he takes us on a historical journey from the origins of Evangelism in Britain to its modern existence in the 20th century. While there is no way I could summarize all of this history in this post, I think one thing that is really important and distinctive in this book is how he identifies Evangelicalism as a movement. Evangelicalism as described by Bebbington has common features or qualities that are identifiable throughout the movement. “There are the four qualities that have been the special marks of Evangelical religion: 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. Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism.” He carefully describes the evolution of the Evangelical movement with these four qualities as witnessed during key cultural eras that occurred between the early 18th century through the 2oth century.
It is apparent in reading this book and other work by Bebbington that throughout each era the Evangelical movement was impacted by and also influenced the popular culture of its time. With the emergence of the Enlightenment era, there seemed to be a cultural shift away from traditional religious “blind faith” to a desire for reason and individual thinking. However, the Romanticism era ushered in a culture awakened through sensibility and expression. An openness to imagination and emotions through art, poetry and literature. During this era there was a shift within the Evangelical community. Prior to this era, God was seen as in more traditional terms. In his article entitled “Evangelicalism and the British Culture”, he wrote about how during this era it was the younger people that shifted their conservative view of God as “Governor of the Universe” to a more emotional and familiar view much like a father. “The effect of this doctrine of the fatherhood of God was therefore to blur the line between the converted and the unconverted. “ This era indeed was more liberal in its ideals and that had a great influence of the liberal theology that many Evangelicals adopted during that time. He noted “the succeeding cultural wave of Romanticism immersed many Evangelicals. Its consequences were manifold, fostering liberal developments in theology and more elaborate liturgical practice…”
In pondering the effects of the Romanticism era on the movement, I can see some similarities that exist in our culture today. The influences of culture on the church and the church on culture are evident within 21st Century America. There has been a similar shift in our culture one that has “blurred the lines” between the converted and the unconverted. One that causes modern day believers to not want to be distinctly identified as separate from the world. Not in an intentional sinful way but in a way that blurs the lines and welcomes inclusion over exclusion. By believer I am referring to those who believe in God. I will also note that these people may not also identify as Christians and definitely not as modern day Evangelical Christians. However, they see God as a being who is inclusive and welcoming. This notion of God has produced an adoption of a nuanced “doctrine of the love of God”. Even many millennials in this generation have rejected the traditional ideals of God and have clung to this universal belief. Although, this does not unite them in faith with others through the four qualities identified by Bebbington, I think it is important to understand how changes in popular culture continue to influence the thinking and behavior of the Church as it is witnessed today.
Although it is a unified belief that God is love, in saying that , I also am very aware that there is a great divide within the church community in how new wide spread liberal theological ideals are embraced. There are those who are very conservative and devout Evangelicals and there those who are more liberal. Even some who choose not to identify withthat title and association into their beliefs and faith practices. I am by no means alluding to the fact that one is more sacred and the other is more secular. I am simply making an observation of the wide spread shift in thinking and outward expression of faith in this country.
The era of Romanticisim did not only bring liberal theological ideals as Bebbington affirmed but it also gave “rise to distinctly conservative doctrinal trends, especially through the faith principle, premillennial teaching and the Keswick Convention.” Even today as a result of the influence of our popular culture in America, there are many who are converting and adopting a more conservative doctrinal belief and practice. Overall, while I am not madly in love with studying history, it does carry value and meaning in our present day. It shapes and molds the way in which we understand the world and continues to serve as a reminder of where we have been, where we can go and warn us of where we can return.
 David Bebbington, Evangelicalism in modern Britain: a history from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Routledge, 1993), 2.
 David W. Bebbington, “Evangelicalism and British Culture,” Perichoresis The Theological Journal of Emanual Univerisity of Oredea 6, no. 2 (2008): 141, accessed January 18, 2017, http://www.emanuel.ro/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/P-6.2-2008-David-W.-Bebbington-Evangelicalism-and-British-Culture.pdf.
 David W. Bebbington, “Evangelicalism and British Culture,” Perichoresis The Theological Journal of Emanual Univerisity of Oredea 6, no. 2 (2008): 153, accessed January 18, 2017, http://www.emanuel.ro/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/P-6.2-2008-David-W.-Bebbington-Evangelicalism-and-British-Culture.pdf.