The Expansion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Wilberforce, More, Chalmers and Finney, By John Wolffe

The Expansion of Evangelicalism

The Age of Wilberforce, More, Chalmers and Finney

History of Evangelicalism Series


by John Wolffe

The Expansion of Evangelicalism
  • Length: 280 pages
  • Published: May 17, 2007
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2582
  • ISBN: 9780830825820

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century the village of Clapham in Surrey still enjoyed a sense of distance from the bustle of London. There the group of evangelicals who would come to be known as the Clapham Sect regularly gathered. William Wilberforce, leader of a long campaign against the slave trade, commiserated with the other inheritors of the fledgling British evangelical movement, now in its second, more politically and culturally savvy generation.

Meanwhile, evangelicalism had also taken root in much harsher social and geographical landscapes, where it was witness to much more rough-edged expressions of Christian conviction. In the bleak industrial valleys of northern England, in the mining and fishing villages of Cornwall, and on the expanding American frontier, a period of intense revivalism was leading to the rapid expansion of Methodism and other forms of popular evangelicalism. It shaped a spirituality that emphasized the transience of this world and the reality of the Christian's true security in heaven.

In The Expansion of Evangelicalism John Wolffe provides an authoritative account of evangelicalism from the 1790s to the 1840s. Making extensive use of primary sources, Wolffe skillfully balances British and American developments, and also discusses Canada, Australia, the West Indies and other regions. He covers aspects of the movement such as spirituality and worship; the place of evangelicalism in the lives of women, men and the family; and its broader social and political effects--giving particular attention to the question of slavery.

Volume two in the acclaimed series, A History of Evangelicalism, this richly detailed, compelling book will excite history buffs, students and professors, and any reader interested in the development of evangelicalism.

"The Expansion of Evangelicalism shows how a protean network of movements for conversion and renewal moved from the margins of English-speaking societies toward their centers. Evangelicals took on new burdens, culminating in campaigns for the abolition of the slave trade and then slavery itself. John Wolffe makes deft use of the profuse historical scholarship on evangelicalism to tell a very complex story with grace and wit."

Joel Carpenter, Calvin College

"This is a superb social history of the evangelical movement in the English-speaking world from 1790 to 1850. It offers a panoramic overview of the movement as a whole, as well as a series of focused snapshots of its leading personalities, institutions, spiritual qualities, corporate worship practices and social outreach efforts. Wolffe's sure hand and multiple lenses have produced an attractive album, which is both critical and compelling, of the Anglophone family of evangelicals."

Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Wolffe's writing style is clear, concise, and he is able to strike a balance between listing the necessary facts and figures without forfeiting excellent prose in the process."

Dannis M. Swanson, The Master's Seminary Journal, Fall 2008

The abundant references to art, literature, music, and other sources are wide-ranging in scope and time. Fortunately, it is possible to view and even hear many of the artistic works referred to in the book on the internet. Of course, that turns reading it into a whole course of cultural musical education! But the fact that the book incites the reader to want to check out the sources is an indication of the fascination it arouses.

Keith C. Sewell, Pro Rege, June 2009

An excellent survey of evangelicalism at an earlier stage and is strongly recommended.

Keith C. Sewell, Pro Rege, June 2009

. . .contributes to the ongoing discussion of the history of Evangelical with penetrating insight and judicious detail. Wolffe does a masterful job in collecting and assembling the massive data available from this period.

Josh Gelatt, Ephemeros, January 2008

Careful reading of this book will reward you with a firm sense of how valuable Evangelicalism was to the development of our national character and renew your confidence in our faith.

Pulpit Helps, November 2007



1. Landscapes and Personalities
2. Revivals and Revivalism, 1790-1820
3. "New Measures" Revivals, 1820-50
4. Spirituality and Worship
5. Women, Men and Family
6. Transforming Society
7. Politics: Freeing Slaves, Saving Nations
8. Diversity and Unity in the Expansion of Evangelicalism

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John Wolffe

John Wolffe is professor of religious history at The Open University in England. He is the author and editor of a number of books.