Essay / Theology

100 Year Old Evangelicalism

The Washington Post ran a story recently about Rick Warren, bestselling megachurch superpastor. What caught my ear was one of the Warren lines quoted in the piece: “One of my goals is to take evangelicals back a century, to the 19th century,” said Warren … “That was a time of muscular Christianity that cared about every aspect of life.”

There are at least three good mini-soundbytes in there, but I’m drawn to the part that says “take evangelicals back a century.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading in evangelical literature from around 1885-1915, and have become very excited about what a great movement evangelicalism was. I suppose we were riding the D. L. Moody wave, and had not yet crashed into the modernist crisis in the schools and churches, never mind taken the public flogging of the Scopes trial.

Compared to the contemporary scene, I am astonished at how doctrinally informed, spiritually alive, socially engaged, historically aware, evangelistically driven, ecumenically collegial, and culturally savvy this movement was. It bleeds through all their publications. My personal favorite for monthly publications is the Biola journal The King’s Business, one decade of which is available here.

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