CT – Evangelical Distinctives in the 21st Century

„This series of essays will try to describe the hard-to-pin-down reality that is evangelical faith as it has expressed itself throughout history and today across the globe. It has been and continues to be an extraordinary phenomenon of God, changing not only individual lives but the trajectory of nations. Like all great movements, it is subject to misunderstanding and mischaracterization. Because of the way the media covers it, the larger public today tends to think of it as primarily a political movement with a religious veneer. At other times, it has had the reputation of being parochial and unconnected with public life. But beneath the mischaracterizations and, frankly, verbal abuse, stands a reality, a way of being a Christian in the world, that simply won’t go away. And it won’t go away because, first and foremost, it has a gospel to bring in both word and deed to a world in desperate need of good news. Some people may scorn the label and others want to shed it. You can change the name, but it will have no effect on the reality of the divine-driven movement it represents.

As a “magazine of evangelical conviction,” Christianity Today continues to believe in the vitality and necessity of the movement. Such a dynamic movement, of course, is not without failings, and anyone who has read us for years knows we are not remiss in pointing those out. Evangelicalism is a reforming movement, and among the many things we are continually reforming is ourselves.”

„What are the distinctives that evangelicalism brings to the table? Many have found a good starting point in historian David Bebbington’s quadrilateral: conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentricism. Though he was specifically describing British evangelicals from the 1730s to the 1980s, it has turned out to be a good summary of evangelicalism found in many times and places. There is this and much more to be unearthed in future essays.”

„Evangelicals recognize themselves in this description, both the “heroism” and “idealism,” as well as the “foolishness and fanaticism.” Perry’s reference to Bunyan is especially apropos. A few decades ago, Christianity Today asked leading evangelicals of the previous generation what books most shaped them, and the one book mentioned by almost every one was Pilgrim’s Progress.


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