Researching Modern Evangelicalism: A Guide to the Holdings of the Billy Graham Center, with Information on Other Collections

By Robert D. Shuster; James Stambaugh et al. | Go to book overview

Introduction:
Studying Evangelicals

Interest in understanding Evangelical Christianity and its role in the modern world has grown considerably in recent years. The importance of learning more about Fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, and the other varieties of modern Evangelicalism has become obvious. These once-marginal religious movements and traditions have remained vigorous while other faiths have faltered, and in North America especially, Evangelicals have become much more assertive in public affair. Their reemergence in public fife has prompted renewed interest in studying Evangelicalism, and this guide is designed to help researchers locate important caches of materials for examining this complex cluster of religious movements. This book should also prove useful to re archers who are not students or professional scholars. Christian workers who need to locate materials to use for a variety of projects will find many valuable nuggets of information herein.

A DEFINITION. "Evangelical" is one of those labels that is used a great deal in public discussion but is not well understood. The term means, in it simplest denotation, pertaining to the evangel, which is the Christian gospel, or good news, that God redeems sinful humanity through His son, Jesus Christ. Evangelicals have stressed that people find salvation only through personal faith in Christ's atoning death and through the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit. They find these views to be the central theme of the Bible, which they hold to be divinely inspired and the ultimate authority for their Christian faith and practice The label "Evangelical" also denotes these Christians' commitment to proclaim this gospel to others by word and deed.

Variations time and place have nuanced the term's meaning and usage, and loaded it with much historic freight. The "Evangelical" label was first used by the churches of the Lutheran Reformation in the sixteenth century, but it gained wider currency during the widespread revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when "Evangelical" became the common label for movements of spiritual renewal and evangelistic outreach within Protestantism. This generic

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