In D.W. Bebbington’s work, “Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, the author works diligently to present the history of Evangelicalism through the past 200 plus years. Early on, Bebbington defines the movement now being termed “evangelicalism” was best understood to mean, “of the gospel.” With this thought in mind, Bebbington begins to build a thorough, though sometimes scattered, history of this particular theological movement and its leaders. Furthermore, famed clergy figures such as Wesley, Stott and Spurgeon demonstrate the roles and, maybe more importantly, obstacles that such a broadly-interpreted religious movement had on church growth.
Though this source demonstrates its apt use of historical sources and religious figures, there is a concern that there is almost a doctrinal corruption of the analysis given by Bebbington. The author seems to focus primarily on the Methodist and Baptists areas of concentration of this discussion, but to some extent fails to demonstrate the real impact this study may have on various other denominations throughout his discussion as emphatically. Whether it was intentional or accidental, occasional complimentary comments are assigned to certain religious groups and speakers; such as the “C.H. Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher of the Metropolitan Tabernacle.” Does a bias on such a topic, taint the readers ability to see the information accurately?
The real issue with the text that I personally connected with was the realization that the very movement itself had so many varied and ever-changing aspects to it, that it seems nearly impossible to give any real classification to it for clarification. So many different groups seemed to identify themselves amongst the evangelicals, and yet, there was still so many different disputes between the groups. Preachers protested other preachers, churches failed to accept other churches, and individuals could be completely ostracized from a church family because of either their beliefs or the extent of their acts of faith. As I saw the various areas of faith that were discussed, I could not help but wonder how our own group of classmates would classify themselves or each other. By many classifications, I could easily identify myself as being an “evangelical”, but I also saw areas that I would struggle identifying other churches in the same light. As a member of the “church of Christ,” we have always been considered among the more conservative types in the religious community; we have no musical instruments, we take the Lord’s Supper every week, hold that baptism is one of the necessary steps for salvation, have a belief that faith is an action word that is required to hold to working for God, just to name a few. When held next to other religious Christian groups, I know that there are a number of areas that would cause protest and division amongst my classmates, and cannot help but wonder how far those obstacles could drive us apart. The reality of what I saw through Bebbington’s work is that the evangelical identity seemed almost more adept at separating God’s people than it did to unite them.
Though I am a strong endorser for the necessity of baptism, I believe there is probably only one issue that I am ever more devoted to teaching, and that is the issue of the divine nature of Scripture and the necessity for holding to its integrity. There was a comment made by Bebbington concerning his discussion on “Biblicism”; in it he quotes an early Methodist preacher as saying, “I made the Bible my god.” I could not help but wonder if this was how I sort of felt about my own devotion to Scripture. In John 1:1, the bible reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This very verse has always held for me the importance of the Word of God. I know that though the context is referencing Christ Himself, it still puts into perspective the association between Scripture and its connection to God. My belief in this factor would actually create a divisive barrier between myself and other religious scholars; but is that a good thing? Do the various Christian organizations embrace our divisions today or feel ashamed about them? Should we be so eager to disqualify one other, or at the other end of the spectrum, should we too easily accept one other? How do we cling to our foundations of faith and still maintain the command for unity that we find in the Bible? My fear is that more we search to cling to some movement or theological tactic, we fail to embrace the true example of Christian unity and integrity. I believe I know the answer to fix this dilemma, however, sadly, I fear we have become so aggressive about our divisions and theologies; we have come to embrace those more than embracing Scripture. Bebbington’s seems to demonstrate this reality without intending to by repeatedly showing the divisions rather than the unifying efforts of evangelicalism.
Bebbington, David W. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. London: Routledge Pulblishing, 1989.
Szabados, Adam. szabadosadam.hu. n.d. http://szabadosadam.hu/divinity/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/BEBBINGTON.pdf (accessed January 10, 2018).
 Bebbington, David W. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. London: Routledge Pulblishing, 1989. P 1.
 Szabados, Adam. szabadosadam.hu. n.d. http://szabadosadam.hu/divinity/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/BEBBINGTON.pdf (accessed January 10, 2018).
 Bebbington 1989, p 12.