Donald Lewis and Richard Pierard’s Global Evangelicalism (GE) is a collection of scholarly essays that examines the impact of globalization and the southern shift of Evangelicalism. They begin with a straightforward definition of Evangelicals who believe in the person of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, the authoritative guidance of the Bible, water Baptism, Lord’s supper-communion, fulfilling the Great Commission, and maintaining relationships in the body of Christ. These editors know what they know and ensure that the belief in Jesus Christ is stated at the beginning of their review of Evangelicalism. I hope to leverage their work and apply it to my spiritual warfare dissertation research, missional outreaches, and marketplace ministry.
First, when I look at the world around me for my dissertation problem I see the influence of spiritual warfare everywhere. Even so, I am still looking through blurred lenses and struggle to see the real threat(s) that Paul warns us about in his Apostolic letters. Who are the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces in heavenly places that we must stand against and wear the armor of God to stand firm and defend in the moment or in the day? Lewis and Pierard do a good job of drawing attention to Africa and their continent-country-wide recognition of the African Evangelicals daily “struggle against demonic forces and spiritual evil.” I know from personal experience as a missionary pilot in Africa that the people there are more sensitive to the spirit world and do not dismiss, ignore, and marginalize the evil phenomenon as much as Western Evangelicals tend to do. One good example is the Intercessors for Africa (IFA). They recognize and call-out the failure of many African states with a spiritual problem. The IFA uses “prayer to counter the evil forces behind the political agents.” I wonder if North American Evangelicals would consider using prayer to overcome their desensitized viewpoints and call upon the power and promises of God to restrain and teardown the negative and evil influences surrounding their work, home, and play.
Second, regarding missional outreaches, I was pleased to read a conservative position showcased by our editors who used the 1974 Lausanne Evangelical Missionary Conference as an example of the Evangelical Expansion. One presenter, Samuel Escobar from Peru, challenged Evangelicals to protect the “integrity of the Gospel” while helping finish the Great Commission. I really connected with his advice to defend the Biblical pattern of evangelism as he warned about the current evangelical temptation to reduce, marginalize, and “eliminate any demands for the fruit of repentance.” To me, his warning means to exercise care and caution, prayer and discernment, when trying to contextualize the Gospel without maintaining the associated conditional requirements and ethical demands given by Scripture. I pray for the advance of contextually appropriate revivals where Christianity is embedded into the missionary’s local social relationships. I have only witnessed this type of revivalism on small scales, but it is exciting to see and not something we normally see in the West since the revivals like Billy Graham helped lead. Lewis and Pierard describe a multi-country revival in the 1930’s that spread from Rwanda into the surrounding region where I served and flew as a missionary. (FYI, I earned my malaria merit badge while serving in Rwanda!)
Third, this book influences my role in an emerging Evangelical outreach called a marketplace ministry (MM). I believe the idea of marketplace ministry lines up with the Evangelicalism movement because it supports and encourages Christians to “activate their faith at work and develop strategies that will systematically integrate faith and business, without alienating others in the workplace.” Simply stated, it is ministry and mission done in and around the workplace. MM is the modern version of what Paul did by financially supporting himself by making tents for the Roman Empire. His vocation allowed him to support himself while also giving him access to hard to reach people, so he could live an incarnational witness, evangelize, start missionary journeys, and plant churches where he lived and worked.
In comparison to our Lewis and Pierard’s GD other authors Hutchinson and Wolffe wrote a book on evangelicalism and say it is “one strand in a complex matrix of influences” and they prefer to regard it from a historical over theological perspective. In Weber’s review of GE he credits Noll, who was cited by our editors, with the most succinct and perceptive definition. Veeneman’s review of Lewis and Pierard’s work is short and to the point. He says the editors provide a helpful overview, raise some critical cross-cultural issues, and do a good job defining Evangelicalism for readers from graduate level through professional practitioners. Graham says that GE offers a good history lesson on the evangelicalism movement and explores the “tricky questions” surrounding denominational differences and gender issues.
Finally, have any of my reviewers ever heard of “The Old Deluder Satan Act?” Thanks to this book I learned how in 1647 a Massachusetts Puritan Colony required boys and girls to learn how to read. Their spiritual logic and discernment was that their youth needed education to successfully “fight against Satan; who could less easily delude a person who could read the Bible.” I wonder what else we can focus on so that we are not deluded, deceived, and tricked into sin?
In summary, this book was a good read for me and easily connects with my dissertation, mission, and marketplace ministry focuses.