There has been a lot about the evangelical church in the news lately. Scot McKnight highlights the four features of evangelicalism as found in David Bebbington’s book, The Dominance of Evangelicalism: The Age of Spurgeon and Moody. To one degree or another, all evangelicals are characterized by these four features:
- All evangelicals are committed to the primacy of Scripture for shaping faith and practice. All Tradition, however respected, will have to answer to scriptural warrant. All Praxis will have to answer to scriptural warrant. This approach to faith and practice characterizes evangelicals.
- All evangelicals are committed to the saving power of the cross. The cross, tied as it is both to the incarnation and to the resurrection, is the act of God that not only unmasks injustice but restores — via substitution — humans to God by dying our death.
- All evangelicals are committed to new birth as a personal experience. Indeed, the necessity of new birth, of the need for life in the face of death. Evangelicals believe the Christian life begins with new birth, and it is here that most evangelicals tie the power of the Holy Spirit to the saving power of the cross (and resurrection). Evangelicals have always worried about the liturgical and liberal approaches to conversion through sacramental or nurturance processes.
- All evangelicals are committed to an active Christian life that involves personal pieties like prayer and Bible reading, corporate fellowship like church attendance and participation, and social activism like justice efforts of all sorts, both locally and globally.
What do you think? Do these four features accurately represent evangelicals? I would want to add something about the importance of witness and sharing the gospel, perhaps under point number four of leading an active Christian life.