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.
- At the time that the New Testament was written, “evangelical” was used to define the “good news” of the “gospel.”
- During the Middle Ages, “evangelical” was used to describe reforming movements inside and outside Catholicism.
- During the Reformation-era, “evangelical” was used in a way that was synonymous with “Protestant.”
- During the 17th-19th centuries, “evangelical” was used to describe revival and renewal movements in Protestantism
- During the early 20th-century, “evangelicals” turned toward fundamentalism.
- 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.
- 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.