Somebody asked me the difference between evangelism & evangelicalism.
As we learned last Sunday, evangelism is an activity; specifically, the activity of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers (whom Jesus refers to as “lost” people) for the purpose of encouraging them to become followers of Christ.
Evangelism in one of the spiritual disciplines and an activity all Christians are called to be engaged in. Last Sunday, I suggested we each have a different style or manner of evangelism that seems to fit us the best. When all these styles are active in a church, the effect will be powerful indeed.
Evangelicalism is something quite different.
To understand, it may be helpful to remind ourselves that there are three major branches of Christianity: Roman Catholicism (1B members), Eastern Orthodox (200M members) and Protestantism (900M members).
Evangelicalism is a movement within Protestantism that began in the 17th century. There are currently about 540 million evangelicals worldwide.
Evangelicals are defined by having 4 major beliefs:
1) I believe the Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
2) I believe it is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior (i.e., to practice evangelism).
3) I believe Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
4) I believe only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
Don’t all Christians believe these 4 things? No, only about 25%, and only about half of Protestants. Nevertheless, evangelicalism is the fastest growing segment of Christianity!
Whenever I’m asked what kind of church First Baptist is, I typically respond “evangelical Christian.” The 4 tenets of evangelicalism are contained in our Statement of Core Beliefs.
In appreciation of you,