The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys

By Geissler, Suzanne | Anglican and Episcopal History, September 2005 | Go to article overview

The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys


Geissler, Suzanne, Anglican and Episcopal History


MARK. A. NOLL. The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003. Pp. 330, introduction, bibliography, index. $23.00.

This is the first in a projected five-volume series, A History of Evangelicalism: People, Movements and Ideals in the English-Speaking World, under the editorship of David W. Bebbington and Mark A. Noll. In this initial volume Noll covers the period from the 173Os to the 179Os in Britain and North America (with some discussion of the English-speaking Caribbean as well). Clearly written and thoroughly documented, this is a book that can be profitably read from cover to cover as well as used as a reference work.

Any writing on evangelicalism must define that term since its meaning has become so elastic. Noll uses the four-part definition developed by his co-editor Bebbington: the necessity of conversion, the Bible as spiritual authority, active service for God, and "crucicentrism" (Christ's atonement on the cross) as the key doctrine (19). Even within that definition there are numerous varieties, emphases, and impulses, of course, and Noll does not lock himself into rigid boundaries in discussing the rise of the evangelical phenomenon in the eighteenth century.

It is difficult to summarize a book of this nature since Noll covers so many different personalities and developments, but, in his own words, what he tries to do is "provide a coherent multinational narrative of the origin, development and rapid diffusion of evangelical movements in their first two generations"(24). …

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