The Rise of the Laity in Evangelical Protestantism

The Rise of the Laity in Evangelical Protestantism

The Rise of the Laity in Evangelical Protestantism

The Rise of the Laity in Evangelical Protestantism


This comprehensive investigation into the involvement of ordinary Christians in Church activities and in anti-clerical dissent, explores a phenomenon stretching from Britain and Germany to the Americas and beyond. It considers how evangelicalism, as an anti-establishmentarian and profoundly individualistic movement, has allowed the traditionally powerless to become enterprising, vocal, and influential in the religious arena and in other areas of politics and culture.


This book has its origins in gratitude felt for the idealism, teaching and example received in earlier decades from ordinary Christians, both men and women. Most of them are destined to remain unknown figures, their very existence preserved for posterity only in the form of names on membership lists. Yet they are part of one of the greatest, if least examined, aspects of modern church history - the vast and increasingly important company of active lay Christians who together give tangible expression to the concept of the church as being the body of Christ.

More immediately this volume of essays arose out of an international conference of historians held at the University of St Andrews in July 1999 to examine the reappearance of the doctrine of the general priesthood of believers at the Reformation, and its connection with the increasing prominence of the Christian laity in the post-Reformation church. the papers delivered at St Andrews considered the extent to which these developments constituted a process of emancipation and explored connections between the rise of lay involvement and the spread of Protestant evangelicalism.

In planning and editing both conference and book I have incurred many debts of gratitude, not least among them those to academic friends and colleagues. in this connection I would like to thank Professor Stewart Brown of the University of Edinburgh for his early encouragement and Professor Mark Noll of Wheaton College, Illinois for his unfailing patience, wisdom and support throughout the various stages of organization. I would also like to express my thanks to all those who helped to explore the subject by giving papers at the conference. the combined expertise of so many scholars working in related fields enables large subjects such as this to be tackled, which otherwise would remain beyond the scope of any single individual. It is my hope that the resulting volume will stand as a permanent tribute to their work and effort.

Particular mention must be made of the generous financial help received from the British Academy for the support of the St Andrews conference. Special thanks are also due to the following bodies and persons for their courtesy in granting permission to publish extracts from manuscript and

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