Evangelicalism: What It Was, What It Is, Can It Survive?

One way to deepen our walk with Jesus is to learn about Him and His body, the Church. Starting in September, my husband, a retired pastor, will be teaching a continuing education class at Shepherd University. Here’s his class description:

I couldn’t tell you how many news articles and other publications I’ve seen in the last thirty years or so that refer to people called “evangelicals.” The problem I often see in these references is the lack of definition in the way people, especially the news media, use that word. Just what makes someone an evangelical? How does that fit in with the historical definition of the word? When and why did people who call themselves evangelicals become one of the many groups seeking to impact American politics?

We will begin our search for answers to these questions by looking at the history of evangelicalism beginning 500 years ago and continuing up to today. We will assess the relationship of evangelicalism to such hot topics as race, gender, national culture, national politics and the Christian Church in America.

A few years ago someone said the only common thread he could find among evangelicals was that they were people who liked Billy Graham. Well, I think there’s a lot more there and it would help us all if we could actually come to understand the way this group of Americans think, act and worship. The good, the bad and the less than handsome parts of this American religious phenomenon affects us all in one way or another.

If you are interested in taking this class follow the link below. It will be available on the campus, but also through Zoom.

https://www.shepherd.edu/lifelonglearning

For more about evangelicalism see:

Billy Graham on Hope

Film Review — The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

Stott on the Christian Life by Tim Chester –Book Review

Billy Graham–Film Review

This documentary film is one of the PBS series, American Experience. Billy Graham has been called “the protestant pope” and “America’s pastor.” He died at the age of 99, a national icon.

The film focuses on his rise to prominence and how he came to influence both national politics and the evangelical movement. Many factors including his good lucks, charismatic personality, and gift for evangelism played into his success. Early on, William Randolph Hearst publicized his revival in Los Angeles, boosting attendance and turning him into a religious celebrity. He firmly believed that the United States was meant to be a positive influence in maintaining world peace, and that capitalism and Christianity were allies. To this end, he cultivated the friendship of politicians and encouraged church members to vote and elect moral leaders who shared their Christian goals.

The Watergate scandal left him deeply disappointed in President Nixon, who he had supported vigorously. After that, he became more cautious about endorsing particular candidates, and evolved a more global outlook, taking revivals to England and many other countries.. At one point, he was considered the most well known person in the world.

Many clips of Graham are used, as well as interviews with historians and family members. He is not presented as a hero, but a person who pursued the work he felt God had given him with persistence and confidence.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. It was an interesting perspective, but don’t expect to learn much about his personal life.

For more movie reviews see:

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood — Movie Review

Harriet–Movie Review

Unplanned — Movie Review

Billy Graham on Hope

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

Billy Graham

For more quotes about hope see:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Hope

Martin Luther on Hope