How do you define an evangelical? Mark Noll interviewed.

Lengthy, yet superbly written, the below article from Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, encapsulates Judy Valente’s interview about America’s evangelicals with Mark Noll, historian and professor of Christian thought at Wheaton College:

How would you define an evangelical?

Historians usually use two ways of defining evangelical Protestant Christians. One feature is the things that evangelicals historically and traditionally have believed and practiced. Evangelicals usually stress conversion to Jesus Christ. Evangelicals stress the authority of the Bible as their chief religious authority. Evangelicals are activist in some areas of life, principally in trying to share the good news about Jesus. And evangelicals usually stress the death… 

Some other great questions from the interview are, as follows:

What are some of the myths about evangelicals?

The truth would be?

What are some of the nuances people might miss about evangelicals, some of the surprising things?

Is there such a thing as an evangelical worldview, a different way of seeing history than many other Americans do?

And the difference between “evangelical” and “fundamentalist”?

What about the emphasis on the Bible as the literal truth, as being literal rather than figurative? Do both groups share that? Or do fundamentalists have that alone?

Why do you think evangelicals have become so much more prominent in recent years than they were 50 years ago?

What do you think has fueled that growth?

You mentioned that evangelicals were able to adapt to culture and to new technology. In what ways did they adapt that others did not?

You say evangelical adaptability has been a positive influence in some ways. But others these days are raising the question: Have evangelicals become too much a part of the culture around them?

In this effort to adjust to modern culture and appeal to larger groups of people, particularly the unchurched, has the evangelical message been watered down? Is this a concern to you?

How would you assess the influence, in politics and culture at large, of evangelicals?

What role do you think evangelicals will play in the upcoming presidential election?

Let’s talk a little about evangelicals and their faith. How do you and others share your faith with people you meet who are not Christian?

Is there any concern that the habits and practices of evangelicals are becoming too much a part of the secular world, particularly young people? It’s hard not to be swept up in the culture that you live in.

How much of a sense do you have, or do evangelicals still have, that they are outside the mainstream? Or are they not becoming more and more a part of the mainstream?

Do you think they are losing somewhat that outsider status — that status as people standing apart from secular culture, almost in judgment of secular culture?

You wrote an entire book called THE SCANDAL OF THE EVANGELICAL MIND about being both an intellectual and an evangelical Christian. To what extent have the issues that you brought up in that book been overcome?

What can you tell me about the Vineyard movement? Where does it fit in on the spectrum of evangelical churches?

You’ve written a lot about the Protestant hymns. What is their significance for the evangelical tradition in America and for evangelical churches?

What about global evangelicalism?

Enjoy the read!



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