Evangelicalism has been a problematic term for a long time. It seems to evade all attempts to define it, at least over the last few decades. Part of the problem is that there are, in fact, several different “evangelicalisms.” Scot McKnight highlights a few, bouncing ideas off of Kenneth J. Stewart’s In Search of Ancient Roots: The Christian Past and the Evangelical Identity Crisis. McKnight suggests there are at least four kinds of evangelical:
- Pragmatic. (He sees this as characteristic of megachurches.)
- Belligerent. (Also known as fundamentalist.)
- Politicized. (McKnight’s category, not Stewart’s. Obviously very prevalent in the US these days.)
- Historic. (Rooted to the Great Awakening[s], the Reformation, and even earlier expressions of Christianity.)
This reminds me of a spiel I did years ago when I taught church history and proposed a typology of “Conservative Resurgences.” (I specifically chose the term “conservative resurgence” for reasons that may be obvious to anybody who was a Southern Baptist in the 1980s and 1990s.) I may have to see if I still have those notes.
So, have you left evangelicalism? Have you left one or more of McKnight’s categories but held firm to another?