Academic Programs 
      

Evangelicalism in America  (RS-685)
Summer 2005

This course will provide an understanding of how Evangelicalism has come to have such a prominent role in American Christianity and how American culture, and Christianity in particular, are being molded by this dynamic movement. Special attention will be given to the ways in which evangelicalism has impacted the American political process. The socio/cultural dimensions of evangelicalism also will be explored. Finally, some efforts will be made to predict the future of Evangelicalism.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday, June 20 Friday, June 24 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Tony Campolo
Adjunct Professor of Religion and Society and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania


Contact Information:

phone: 
(860) 509-9500
email:
  
 

Course Syllabus

web page 



Over the past 25 years, evangelicalism has changed from being a sectarian movement within Protestant Christianity to becoming one of its most prominent expressions.  It has gained a virtual monopoly over religious programming in television and radio.  It dominates religious publishing and has overwhelmed traditional denominational presses.  It has created its own music industries that have become multi-million dollar successes.  Most communities in America have witnessed the emergence of evangelical super churches, often with several thousand in attendance. 

This explosion of evangelicalism over the past half century has come at the expense of mainline churches which, in turn, have been suffering a steady decline over the same period.  While mainline denominations have been cutting back on their budgets and bringing missionaries home from overseas assignments, evangelicals have been sending out missionaries in staggering numbers.  Evangelical Christianity has come to dominate in the third world and this third world domination has a had a feedback effect on the United States.  Evangelical third world Christianity has become more and more vocal and powerful on the world scene.  Today, third world Christians of mainline denominations are challenging the hegemony that more liberal American Protestantism had earlier exercised. 

In this course of study, we will review the origins and development of this modern Evangelical movement starting in the 19th century and tracing it up to the present time.  We will outline both its history and its theology.   Special attention will be given to the ways in which evangelicalism has impacted the American political process.

In the course of our study we will consider the growing tendency toward schisms that have surfaced within evangelicalism over the last couple of years, fostered by such movements as the Emergent Church and Progressive Evangelicalism, which have reacted against the marriage of evangelicalism with the right wing of the Republican party.  The socio/cultural dimensions of evangelicalism will be explored evaluating its impact on the contemporary culture.

Finally, some efforts will be made to predict the future of Evangelicalism, and how the rest of Christianity will be influenced by the Evangelical witness.

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with an understanding of how Evangelicalism has come to have such a prominent role in American Christianity and how American culture, and Christianity in particular, are being molded by this dynamic movement.

Readings

  1. Prior to the start of the class, students are requested to read Speaking My Mind by Tony Campolo, W Publishing Group, 2004.
  2. The readings of the course will have the following books for consideration:
    1. Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again, Oxford University Press, 1997.
    2. Donald E. Miller, Reinventing American Protestantism, University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, 1997.
    3. Allister McGrath, Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1995. 
    4. Henry H. Knight III, A Future for Truth:  Evangelical Theology in a Postmodern World;  Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1997.
 
Written Assignments
  1. A six page double spaced paper critiquing the book Speaking My Mind, written by the professor.
  2. A fifteen-page double spaced paper on a subject related to the subject matter of the course, and agreed upon by the teaching assistant.  The paper should combine insights from readings and lectures along with personal reflections by the student.

 

Outline

I.      The History of Evangelicalism

A.    19th Century Revivalism 

1.      The Finny Revivals
2.      Adventist Movements
3.      Defining Issues

(a)    Slavery
(b)   The Feminist Movement

B.     20th Century Evangelicalism

1.      The Impact of Modernism

(a)    Higher and Lower Biblical Criticism
(b)   Modernist Theology (i.e., Schliermacher, Strauss, Feuerbach, Biedermann)

2.      The Fundamentalist Reaction to Modernism

           II.  The Defining Issues of Evangelicalism

A. Evolution versus Creationism
B.  The Authority of Scripture
C.  The Sectarian
Tendencies
D.  The Struggle Against Communism
E.  The Confrontation with Catholicism
F.  The Emergence of Abortion and Homosexuality as Defining Issues

III.  The Growth and Development of Evangelicalism

A.  The Creation of Evangelical Colleges and Seminaries
B.   The Creation of Independent Missionary Organizations
C. The Creation of Evangelical Publishing Houses
D. The Creation of Evangelical Broadcasting
E.  The Role of Evangelical Organizations

1.      Campus Crusade
2.      Youth for Christ
3.      Young Life
4.      Intervarsity Fellowship
5.      Navigators

        IV.      The Mainstreaming of Evangelicalism

A.    The Increasing Sophistication of Evangelical Apologetics
B.     The Church Growth Movement and the Emergence of Mega-Churches

         V.      The Politicizing of Evangelicalism

A.  The Moral Majority
B.  The Christian Coalition
C.  The Marriage of Evangelicalism with the Republican Party

VI.      The Future of Evangelicalism

A. The Growing Tendency Toward Schism in Evangelicalism
B.  The Emergence of Counter Movements

1.  The Emergent Churches
2.  The Call to Renewal
3.  Progressive Evangelicalism

C. The Responses of Mainline Christianity

 

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