The word evangelical is widely used and widely misunderstood.
In this paper edition of this inaugural book in a series that charts the course of English-speaking evangelicalism over the last 300 years, Mark Noll offers a multinational narrative of the origin, development and rapid diffusion of evangelical movements in their first two generations. Theology, hymnody, gender, warfare, politics and science are all taken into consideration. But the focus is on the landmark individuals, events and organizations that shaped the story of the beginnings of this vibrant Christian movement.
The revivals in Britain and North America in the mid-eighteenth century proved to be foundational in the development of the movement, its ethos, beliefs and subsequent direction. In these revivals, the core commitments of evangelicals were formed that continue to this day. In this volume you will find the fascinating story of their formation, their strengths and their weaknesses, but always their dynamism.
"This remarkable book provides an illuminating synthesis of the origins of evangelical culture. Noll travels easily across Great Britain, the European continent and North America, uncovering the intricate interplay of heroic theologians and their disciples, transformative ideas, and responsive congregants. He balances revealing examples against strikingly clear presentations of theologies within the social and political cultures of instability that included religious warfare, Atlantic exploration and settlement, and the rise of commercial capitalism. The result is a powerful narrative that envisions evangelicalism as the product of its era as well as an ascendant force that would change radically the nature of religious culture in Britain and North America."
"Evangelicalism is heart-religion upheld and propelled by a variety of aids both temporal and spiritual. The historical form of the religion we are familiar with is of relatively recent vintage, but its seeds can be traced to ancient soil. Mark Noll's book describes the eighteenth-century background of evangelicalism, showing how its taproot gave us a large trans-Atlantic stem of awakening, and how that in turn produced a good number of branches and no small amount of fruit. Without ignoring the bramble mixed with the fruit, Noll offers an authoritative, surefooted guide through the halls of fractious contention and unyielding disputations that marked the origins of evangelical thought. It is clear from his account that excitement was linked to vigilant wariness and fastidious attention to ideas. The book is a valuable summary of an important force in eighteenth-century intellectual thought and ideas."
"Carefully researched and well-written analysis. . . . Pleasingly clear writing style. . . . This book is highly recommended as a reliable and insightful account of the rise of evangelical Christianity."
"There is to date no more succinct or accessible an introduction to the far-flung networks of friendships and rivalries that inspired these transforming cultural movements."
Abbreviations and Short Titles
1. Landscapes: Political, Ecclesiastical, Spiritual
2. Antecedents, Stirrings
3. Revival, 1734-1738
4. Revival, Fragmentation, Consolidation, 1738-1745
6. Development, 1745-1770
7. Diversification, 1770-1795
8. In the World
9. True Religion