7 Historic Meanings of Evangelicalism

latin evangelicals

Earlier today published a post calling your attention to Michael  Gyrboski’s piece on the way historians understand American evangelicalism.  Over at Anabaptist Visions, David Cramer enters the fray with a post on Tim Erdel‘s  “7 Historical Meanings of Evangelicalism.”

Erdel lists seven ways in which the word “evangelical” was used in the history of the West.

  1.  At the time that the New Testament was written, “evangelical” was used to define the “good news” of the “gospel.”
  2.   During the Middle Ages, “evangelical” was used to describe reforming movements inside and outside Catholicism.
  3.  During the Reformation-era, “evangelical” was used in a way that was synonymous with “Protestant.”
  4.  During the 17th-19th centuries, “evangelical” was used to describe revival and renewal movements in Protestantism
  5.  During the early 20th-century, “evangelicals” turned toward fundamentalism.
  6.  During the mid-20th-century, “evangelical” was adopted by the “neo-evangelical” movement associated with Carl F.H. Henry, Billy Graham, Christianity Today, and Fuller Seminary.
  7. During the 21st-century, “evangelical” is used to describe the global spread of the Christian gospel.

I like these categories.  They provide a nice starting point.  Read more about them at Cramer’s post.