The term "evangelicalism" is a rather far-reaching term that refers to a movement within Protestantism that focuses on one's ability to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ after being born again. Evangelicalism adheres to the core belief Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5: "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve."
The Greek word euangelion, meaning "good news," along with euangelizomai, meaning "to proclaim as good news" are the roots of the word evangelicalism. The good news of the gospel is Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection that made a way for our salvation. Evangelicalism focuses on first the believing and then the sharing of this gospel message.
According to the National Association of Evangelicals' website, the historian David Bebbington accurately sums up the four key focuses of evangelicalism, quoted below:
Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a “born-again” experience and a life long process of following Jesus
Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts
Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority
Crucicentrism: a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity
In addition to focusing on a personal relationship with Christ, evangelicalism focuses on the supremacy of the Word of God with the desire to interpret the Bible accurately and obey its commands. The Protestant Reformation brought about evangelicalism because with that movement biblical truths that had been neglected were brought back into the light and began to be taught in the church. The significant revivals that took place within Europe and the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries solidified evangelicalism as a movement.
In this day and age, the word "evangelicalism" has become poorly defined and therefore its true meaning has become distorted in various ways, especially within the realm of politics. The world of politics is not the focus of true evangelicalism, nor is true evangelicalism connected to a political party or to any specific social issue. What true evangelicalism seeks to do is know God and His will, as outlined in the Bible, and make decisions that best align with God's instructions. The heart of true evangelicalism is to fulfill the Great Commission: "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18–20).
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