Mark Noll’s The Rise of Evangelicalism argues that there have been a consistent pattern of convictions that mark the evangelical impulse that arose in the Reformation. Noll says David Bebbington lists four ingredients of evangelicalism:
Conversion – the belief that lives need to be changed.
That is “lives” need to be changed, not minds. Conversionism is not about getting me to believe something differently. It is about getting me to live differently. There is absolutely nothing radical about that for the heirs of John Wesley.
Biblical priority – the belief that the Bible contains all spiritual truth.
Hmmm. Well, the Book of Discipline in that little section that can’t be amended says the Bible contains all that is necessary for salvation and is a true guide to faith and practice.
Activism – dedication of all believers to lives of service for God, especially the spreading of the good news and the carrying of the gospel to those who have not heard it.
John Wesley. Those guys who gave the name to Cokesbury bookstore. Methodist missionaries. I gather mission is more controversial these days – even as the places we used to send missionaries to are talking about sending missionaries back to us. But how can anyone dispute the idea of discipleship? Certainly, we Methodists can’t. We are all about “Making disciples for the transformation of the world,” or so the General Conference said.
Crucicentrism – Christ’s death was the crucial matter in providing atonement for sin.
I picked up an article by Brian McLaren the other day, so I’m beginning to understand that there is a notion out there that sin is not considered such a big deal or that there is something called “Creation theology” that finds thinking about sin “missing the point.” So, I gather, there is a range of feeling on this issue.
I can’t see how you do Wesleyan faith without a robust since of sin – and therefore the need for a Savior to open the way for healing and removal of its effects.
So, I guess I’m four for four. That makes me an evangelical.