“How has evangelical Christianity made a positive difference in the world?”

Salvation Army

I am working on a historical talk on this topic.  I realize that it is not a historical question, but I was asked to speak on this theme and I accepted the invitation.  While the question is broad-ranging, I am going to limit my remarks to the United States.

How would you answer this question?

5 thoughts on ““How has evangelical Christianity made a positive difference in the world?”

  1. I think an important aspect of answering this question, particularly if sticking to the U.S. context, would be to include both white and black evangelicals in the discussion.


  2. Take a look at the award-winning but ignored study by Robert Woodberry in the American Political Science Review, May, 2012. It is entitled “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” and Woodberry amasses very powerful evidence and analysis to show that “conversionary Protestants” (that puts evangelicals at the center of this group) heavily influenced the development of stable democracies around the world (though most of the time they did not realize they were doing this). That’s a pretty significant claim and it is a terrible shame that more scholars haven’t paid attention to it.


  3. I think it is a historical question. You answer it by turning to records of the past for evidence of various things that evangelicals did and then you evaluate them. But your worldview makes a big difference on how you evaluate what they did: was it enough? Should they have done more? Should they have acted more as groups and less as evangelicals? Should the institutional church been more involved as such?

    You can’t answer those questions without taking a definitive view and basing that view on a definitive theological outlook, and history only takes on its deepest value and greatest meaning when it helps answer these questions.


  4. Yes. The modernists were concerned about social justice – it was the heart of their message in the 20th century. However, fundamentalist (who would later become evangelicals) founded Rescue Missions to help the down and out in America and medical missions in foreign lands. They practiced the social gospel while they denounced the belief that this alone was the answer to the needs of the world.


Comments are closed.