One of the great virtues of Mark Noll’s The Rise of Evangelicalism, and this is a great book in every sense of the word for a textbook, is his sketch of the various influences that broke open and forged an “evangelical” unity during the 18th Century. He traces the pietism of Europe, the Puritanism of England and the USA, and the high-church spirituality of the Anglicans. And then when it was all over there were four kinds of evangelicals — and they are with us today — still in some senses vying for the “true” kind of evangelical.
The following list made me think of which of these is still considered “evangelical.” Do we have a broad enough definition to include each? Where are the biggest tensions? Which groups need to converse with one another the most?
1. The Calvinist kind of evangelical that stressed the importance of right doctrine.
2. The urgent kind of evangelical that stressed preaching Christ, the gospel and living a holy life.
3. The pietism that stressed piety so comprehensively that it subordinated doctrine to praxis.
4. The ecclesiastical kind of evangelical that rested content with the traditions of its own particular denomination.
Thus, we have already in the 18th Century considerable diversity within the evangelical fold:
Pietistic evangelicals, and