Throughout the nineteenth century, Evangelicalism gained much momentum, with the US and UK Great Awakenings. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, missionary work increased and lots of the main missionary groups were set up around this period. The high church and Evangelical movements alike funded missionaries.
Mainly, the Second Great Awakening (that actually started in 1790) was a US revivalist movement, which led to significant expansion of the Baptist and Methodist churches. One key preacher during this time was Charles Grandison Finney.
In the UK, as well as emphasizing the conventional Wesleyan mix of ‘Cross, Bible, activism and conversion’, the revivalist movement aimed for universal appeal – attempting to include the poor and rich, rural and urban, and women and men. Much effort was made to appeal to children and create literature that espoused revivalist messages. This inclusive approach differentiated it from other religions.
The UK Evangelical movement used the term ‘Christian conscience’ to encourage social activism. Evangelicals thought that activism in society and in government was an effective way of eradicating the sins of a wicked world. The Clapham sect Evangelicals included people like William Wilberforce, who campaigned successfully for slavery to be abolished.
During the late nineteenth century, the Holiness revivalist movement, which centered on the principle of ‘whole sanctification’, became more extreme in rural Canada and America, where it ended up breaking away from traditional Methodism. Holiness messages were less censorious and exclusive in urban UK.
John Nelson Darby, from the Brethren in Plymouth, was an Irish nineteenth century Anglican minister, who created modern dispensationalism. This was a unique theological Protestant Bible interpretation, which was adopted while modern Evangelicalism was developing. Cyrus Scofield went on to promote the concept of dispensationalism, via the explanatory footnotes in his Reference Bible. Mark S. Sweetnam, a scholar who specializes in cultural studies, said that dispensationalism should be defined by its’ Evangelicalism, its’ emphasis on Scripture’s literal interpretation, its’ acknowledgement of phases in God’s interaction with people, its’ belief in the inevitable return of Jesus to transport his saints to heaven, and its’ approval of both premillennialism and apocalypticism.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, key figures include Chicago based Dwight L. Moody and London based Charles Spurgeon. Their charismatic preaching was heard by extremely big audiences.
A sophisticated theological point of view was articulated by Princeton theologians, between the 1850s and 1920s. These theologians included Archibald Alexander, B.B. Warfield and Charles Hodge.
In modern times, the word ‘Evangelical’ is frequently used interchangeably with the word ‘Protestant’ in Latin America. Brazilian protestantism started with immigrants from Germany, and with American and British missionaries, during the nineteenth century. This followed up on attempts that were made during the 1820s. In 1855, Doctor Robert Reid Kalley, who was a Scottish missionary, moved to Brazil with support from Scotland’s Free Church. Once there, he founded the Portuguese speaking population’s first Evangelical church in 1856. 1894 was a year marked by the arrival of Seventh day Adventists, and 1896 saw the introduction of the YMCA.