There are several complicated descriptions of evangelicalism, however, it can be simply explained and easily understood. While there is a lot of history that goes into evangelicalism, it is best understood looking at what it is now and how it became popular.
What is Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is essential a denomination of the Protestant religion. It occurs in nearly all of the Protestant denominations including Baptist, Lutheran, and Pentecostal. It is a denomination that prioritizes piety, and moral living, over rituals. Evangelicals believe that once you have converted, or have been “born again”, your salvation is then guaranteed.
The Popularity of Evangelicalism
In the 18th century, evangelicalism started to gain popularity. It arose, at that time, as a rivalry between the Protestant religions of New England and Britain. Original Protestant traditions emphasized the importance of following the rituals during worship. Salvation was not given, essentially automatically, as it is with Evangelicals upon conversion. Salvation was instead earned over time and with the observing of the religious rituals. Little, if any emphasis, was given to living with morals or moralistic values. Piety was not a requirement for salvation.
Revivals were the tool by which the doctrine of Evangelicals were spread. In these revivals they would preach the good of piety and living a moralistic life. The preachers would offer the chance to convert, or be “born again, at which time their personal salvation would be granted. There was no waiting to see if salvation would be granted over time. No longer did worship entail impersonal and formal rituals. Evangelicals sought to preach the message of piety over stuffy rituals. The result was a more personal message and experience. Evangelicals reached out to convert others and spread the religion unlike traditional Protestants. The movement took hold and the word evangelicalism was capitalized and made a religious denomination.
While this is a very broad generalization and overview of the Evangelical movement, it outlines the basics of it. Overtime this denomination has evolved and developed. It has proliferated over the years to not only reach several denominations, it has branched into several of its own denominations. In today’s religious climate there are non-denominational Evangelicals whose practitioners do not claim any denomination and instead claim thee practice of piety. In addition there are also open, post, progressive, and neo-Evangelicals. What divides each denomination is often complicated and is based in a difference of doctrines. What is not complicated is the fact that the movement has spread and now reaches nearly every part of the world. What was a major fundamental difference in the 18th century, salvation upon conversion, is almost assumed in many religions today. It has become so popular that nearly a quarter of all Christians are Evangelicals.