Thursday, October 14, 2010

Puritans--The Original American Evangelicals?

I'm skimming Divided by Faith for the conference on campus this weekend reflecting on the book 10 years later.  So far an excellent book.

What I'm sick of is the construct of evangelicalism, propagated by Mark Noll, that the New England Puritans were the original American evangelicals with the movement somewhat abating until the mid-twentieth century.  These aren't my family or my progeny.

Why we as Wesleyans have any need to identify ourselves as evangelicals is beyond me.


Rick said...

Do you not agree with the Bebbington "Bible, Cross, Conversion, Active living" definition of Evangelicalism?

If it is a good definition, would not Wesleyans fall into that basic description?

Ken Schenck said...

Yes, we agree with the threads. But would we come up with the same threads if we came up with them on our own or are the emphases of these threads the same as ours. We don't emphasize penal substitution, for example. The resurrection and incarnation are far more important to me than the cross. And we are much more open to the idea that God judges people according to the light they have than other evangelicals. And we are less foundationalist in our use of the Bible than other evangelicals.

But what I am mainly protesting is any sense that the Puritans represent me or that I trace my Protestantism back to Luther or Calvin. We became Protestant through the Anglican back door.

Theresa Bruno said...

I agree, I don't believe the Puritans were the original evangelicals. They wanted to "purify" the Anglican church and themselves. They focused inward not outward.

Jonathan Robinson said...

aren't labels and church history confusing! I always understood evangelicalism to be one of the legacies of Wesley, or at least Wesley to be a major contributary river into that stream.

But you Americans do tend to use words slightly differently to the rest of us.