DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Gift and The Problem

Written by: on January 18, 2017

 

              Introduction

Surprisingly, evangelicalism is a global phenomenon: It is not confined to North America or Europe. Global Evangelicalism Theology, History & Culture in Regional Perspective, by Donald M. Lewis and Richard V. Pierard, explores the growth and explosion of evangelicalism through the theological, historical, and regional perspectives.[1] The book defines evangelicalism by considering its global manifestation as being centered on the hallmark of conversion. The authors focus on the three pillars that inform the agenda of evangelicalism: the bible, crucicentrism, and activism. The book also discusses the reasons and factors that contributed to the explosion of evangelicalism to the different parts of the world through regional case studies. The authors claim, “Many evangelicals themselves have little understanding of their own historical roots.”[2]

                                                         Summary

This book surveys the global explosion of evangelicalism from its central origin from theological and historical perspectives, includes case studies of evangelicalism’s growth for regions around the world, and even addresses such special concerns as gender and ecumenism. “Its main purpose is then to trace the recent history of evangelical churches and evangelical movements.”[3] Within the past century, the concept of evangelicalism has taken global proportions by spreading from the northern heartlands to form other new and burgeoning centers with vibrant life. Hence, the book gives a regional and conceptual overview of evangelical Christianity. It informs the readers with the diverse perspectives that have contributed to the growth of evangelicalism and the various contributing factors that have enhanced its spread from its origin in Europe and North America. The authors claim, “evangelical Christianity was predominately restricted to Western Europe and North America.”[4] For instance, Williams addresses the common gender issues associated with Christianity and leadership. She does this by giving a nuanced picture that ranges from women leadership and initiatives in the church particularly in the 19th century. She also suggests some of the basic ways that women’s and men’s identities have been constructed.

                                                  Reflection

From the book, it is evident that the global growth of evangelicalism has enlarged significantly from its center in the North America and Europe. The authors even claim that “Pentecostal beliefs and practices have spread like wild fire.”[5] In fact, Christians that identify with evangelicalism outside Europe and North America are now in the majority. This shows that there has been a universal reception and passage of the gospel from a common central region to other parts of the world. Basically, the spread of this Christian phenomenon occurred through the consistent and continuous works of its various messengers. This book is indeed a lens through which readers can understand the growth and rapid spread of evangelicalism. The book is highly readable and speaks with a consistent voice. For instance, it illuminates an early emphasis on bible translation along with other major cultural works into English. With the accommodation of Christianity by the indigenous peoples, Christianity has become a global concept that is a multifaceted mosaic of commonly held truths and distinctive expressions. In fact, the authors point out, “It also helps to explain the great diversity of evangelicalism around the world.”[6]

Some scholars may find it biased towards a particular scholar’s evangelical beliefs and convictions.[7] However, it is advisable to read the collection with a balanced scholarly approach that can read into such historical phenomena as cultural imperialism.[8] In my view, this work is a great resource for readers and researchers surveying the growth of evangelical Christianity in the world. It contains the key and major concepts and factors that inform studies and fills gaps in the research.

                                                  Personal Note

The word evangelical designates a set of beliefs, behaviors, and characteristic emphases within the broad Christian tradition. It comes from the Greek word from which we get the English word gospel. The gospel is good news and also the plan of salvation, which Christians are to spread. How do we define what makes someone or something evangelical? What is an evangelical, for the love of God, and why does it even matter? The answer requires an understanding of both the history and theology of the movement, but according to the scripture in Roman 1:16(kj), “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Therefore, Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Similarly, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.

Mark Noll asked the question “Why are mainline Protestant churches going along at a sort of steady pace and even declining, whereas evangelical churches are definitely seeing an increase?” However, other questions flow through my mind. Why during our election, did pollsters talk about evangelicals as mostly white? These white votes are associated with the Republican Party, whereas African American evangelical churches in the United States vote for the Democratic Party.

What is a religious point of view? We regard huge numbers of African-American churches in the United States as evangelical. They believe in the Bible. They believe in conversion. They are supernaturalisms. On moral issues, they oppose abortion. They believe that marriage should be restricted to one man and one woman. When we look at the polling numbers, evangelicals are mostly white? Why is that the case?

It seems that American religious life has a political difference between blacks and whites who otherwise share a tremendous amount in their religious beliefs and religious practices. Are the churches that are known as evangelical today descended from the mainline Protestant churches of the nineteenth century?

 

Bibliography

[1]. Mark Hutchinson and John Wolfe, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

[2]. Donald M. Lewis and Richard V. Pierard, Global Evangelicalism: Theology, History and Culture in Regional Perspective (Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2014), 13.

[3]. Ibid., 14.

[4]. Ibid., 17.

[5]. Ibid., 22.

[6]. Ibid., 35.

[7]. Brian Stanley, The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott (Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2013).

[8] Brian Stiller, Todd M. Johnson, Karen Stiller, and Mark Hutchinson, Evangelicals around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015).

About the Author

mm

Rose Anding

Rose Maria “Simmons McCarthy” Anding, a Visionary, Teacher,Evangelist, Biblical Counselor/ Chaplain and Author, of High Heels, Honey Lips, and White Powder. She is a widower, mother, stepmother, grandmother, great grandmother of Denver James, the greater joy of her life. She has lived in Chicago, Washington, DC, and North Carolina, and is now back on the forgiving soil of Mississippi.

9 responses to “The Gift and The Problem”

  1. Thank you for your personal note at the end of your blog. I agree with your questioning of why the separateness of white and black evangelicals in America. Did you happen to watch The 13th on Netflix. A great film by the creators of Selma. It gave me greater understanding of the racial divide of which you write.

  2. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks !
    yes i did, , the personal note was just a snack for thoughts ! Thanks for sharing Rose Maria

  3. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Rose,

    You referenced Williams and issues within Evangelicalism regarding gender. In your ministry have you ever bumped up against a glass ceiling? If so, how did you deal with that? Within the Evangelical world, have you found it necessary to convince people that you have a place in ministry leadership?

    You mentioned that the media assumes that evangelicals are white and Republican. I find both those assumptions offensive. It sounds like you, also, are offended by that. I am irritated, in part, that people who allegedly report what is actually happening in the world take so little care to truly investigate and understand the subtleties of these issues and identifications.

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Marc!
      There are times when things get all mixed up and we as leaders must take the lead in pointing others in the way of righteousness.
      Thanks for sharing Rose Maria

  4. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Rose:

    Great point on white/black evangelicals. The thought that Evangelicals are a voting block is relatively media driven. Would you agree?

    In your church history would you have ever referenced yourself as an Evangelical? Do you think the average American would equate Pentecostalism and Evangelicals in the same camp?

    Phil

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Phil,
      The reason the media referred to pollsters the way they did, because in the blacks churches, they called themselves Pentecostalis where as the average American would equate Evangelical as white.
      The question is what are we…christian.
      Thanks for sharing Rose Maria

  5. Rose,

    Thank you for your post. Your evaluation of the book is very fair and contains great content. I did find it interesting that your final paragraph contains the same questions and issues that I can’t quite wrap my mind around.

    You said “The gospel is good news and also the plan of salvation, which Christians are to spread. How do we define what makes someone or something evangelical? What is an evangelical, for the love of God, and why does it even matter?”

    That is my thought exactly! Isn’t Christian the word that we are searching for? Sharing the gospel or good news requires so many different “outfits” to fit the local cultures but the message has to stay on point. Would you believe that we need to stay on point?

    Your answer addressing all the sub words of evangelicalism is spot on. Thank you for answering that question with clarity.

    As for the black and white paragraph that you bring up so clearly, does the word evangelical rise to the top or does the word Christian come to the top? Was it the Christian vote that was counted or was it the evangelical vote? Sometimes when secular media gives you a name or label, it might be best to change that label or cling to the one that the Bible gave? What are your thoughts.

    Great writing.

    Kevin

  6. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Kevin for sharing!
    I think as Christians, we must be careful of the words we used, what we call ourselves, because the media pickup labels from what is floating the atmosphere, which doesn’t describe who we are in Christ.
    peace &Love Rose Maria

  7. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    Rose,
    Great blog and I resonate with a lot of what you said, except one thought process. I believe the global consistency is there but the tone is different culturally. One of the reasons it becomes easier for me to appreciate this book is because of the nature of this doctoral program. For example, chapter five had a lot information in terms of data but it was a difficult read in comparison with chapter six. There’s also the issue of fundamentalism and Evangelicalism that you’ll find throughout the book, depending on the region. North America associated Christianity with evangelicalism while others subscribed to fundamentalism. Those are some of the things I noticed in terms of consistency.

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