Next Sunday’s Adult Class: Who’s an Evangelical?

Having spent an energizing Reformation Sunday morning at an Evangelical Covenant church, I’m looking forward to visiting a Lutheran church this coming Sunday to teach the history of evangelicalism

If you’re in the Twin Cities, join us at Incarnation Lutheran in Shoreview, MN for the Kairos Forum — offered both 8:45am and 10:05am. Here’s the class title and blurb:

Who’s an Evangelical? The History of a Contentious Term (Nov. 3)

During the Protestant Reformation, followers of Martin Luther called themselves “evangelicals.” Over 500 years later, Lutherans still use that term — but so too do other Protestants, heirs to movements like Puritanism, Pietism, Revivalism, Fundamentalism, and Pentecostalism. We’ll sort through the contentious history of this term — and ask whether it’s still meaningful in 2019.

If you want to do some advance reading… I won’t try to get to all of these on Sunday, but each book and article is getting at important aspects of the debate over the definition of evangelicalism.


• Angela Denker, Red State Christians: Understanding the Voters Who Elected Donald Trump (Fortress, 2019)

• Darren Dochuk, Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made America (Basic Books, 2019)

I’ll specially recommend the collection edited by Labberton (president of Fuller Seminary): while white male authors dominate my reading list, Still Evangelical? includes several women and persons of color among its contributors

• John Fea, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (Eerdmans, 2018)

• Frances Fitzgerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster, 2018)

• Timothy Gloege, Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2015)

• David Gushee, Still Christian: Following Jesus Out of American Evangelicalism (Westminster John Knox, 2017)

• D. G. Hart, Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham (Baker Academic, 2004)

• Thomas Kidd, Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a Movement in Crisis (Yale University Press, 2019)

• Kevin Kruse, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (Basic Books, 2016)

• Mark Labberton, ed., Still Evangelical? Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning (IVP Books, 2018)

• Soong-Chan Rah, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (IVP Books, 2009)

• Matthew Avery Sutton, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Harvard University Press, 2017)

• David Swartz, Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)

• Grant Wacker, One Soul at a Time: The Story of Billy Graham (Eerdmans, 2019)

• Molly Worthen, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press, 2013)

(Then stay tuned next month for the publication of Evangelicals: Who They Have Been, Are Now, and Could Be, a collection edited by three leading evangelical historians: Mark Noll, David Bebbington, and George Marsden.)

Blog Posts and Articles

• Robert Blezard, “The ‘e’ word,” Living Lutheran, Apr. 6, 2018

• Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s Country,” The Washington Post, Aug. 14, 2019

• Herbert Chilstrom, “Recapturing ‘evangelical,’” Living Lutheran, Mar. 14, 2012

• Seth Dowland, “American evangelicalism and the politics of whiteness,” The Christian Century, June 19, 2018

• Kristin Du Mez, “Hobby Lobby Evangelicalism,” The Anxious Bench, Sept. 6, 2018

• Chris Gehrz, “Who Is an Evangelical… in Africa?“, The Anxious Bench, Oct. 15, 2019

• Eliza Griswold, “Evangelicals of Color Fight Back Against the Religious Right,” The New Yorker, Dec. 26, 2018

• Bruce Hindmarsh, “What Is Evangelicalism?“, Christianity Today, Mar. 14, 2018

• Alan Jacobs, “Evangelical Has Lost Its Meaning,” The Atlantic, Sept. 22, 2019

• Thomas Kidd, “Who’s an evangelical and who gets to decide?“, Religion News Service, Sept. 23, 2019

• Jonathan Merritt, “Defining ‘Evangelical,’” The Atlantic, Dec. 7, 2015

• Russell Moore, “Why this election makes me hate the word ‘evangelical,’” The Washington Post, Feb. 29, 2016

• John Turner, “Who Defines Evangelicalism?“, The Anxious Bench, Dec. 20, 2018

• Janelle Wong, “We Are All Evangelicals Now,” Religion & Politics, Jan. 22, 2019