My Upcoming Adult Class on Evangelicalism

If only because it means that I can do more than talk about Charles Lindbergh, I’m happy to announce that I’ll be teaching a four-week adult class on an even more contentious topic: the meaning of the word “evangelical.”

Even better, it’s being taught at the church I attended for fifteen years: Salem Covenant in New Brighton, MN! Longtime readers will also remember that I co-wrote The Pietist Option with Salem’s senior pastor, Mark Pattie, who just got back from sabbatical.

Mark preaching at Salem Covenant
Mark preaching in the traditional service at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN – photo courtesy of Heather Brumbaugh

Join us the last two Sunday mornings in September and the first two in October from 10:10-10:50am in Salem’s Lounge. It’s the first installment for the year in Salem’s Faith 20/20 series, which mixes a speaker’s presentation with discussion.

(I don’t know if this series is going to be Zoomed or recorded, but if so, I’ll post those links at my Speaking page. Update: no video… but I did write up a summary of the course, plus expanded versions of the reading lists I shared, for my Oct. 19 post at The Anxious Bench.)

Here’s the course title, description, and weekly outline, in case you’re interested in attending. I’ll share a suggested readings list next month.

“Evangelical”: Past, Present, and Future

What is an “evangelical”? Where did that word come from, and is it still useful today? Historian Chris Gehrz will lead our discussion of a term that inspires heated debate and strong feelings, among Christians and non-Christians alike.

9/19 – Defining Evangelicalism
To get started, we’ll talk about our own experiences of evangelicalism and see how they match up against two scholars’ definitions: David Bebbington’s “quadrilateral” and Don Dayton’s three-part history of the term’s evolution.

9/26 – Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism, and “The Mainline”
We’ll dive deeper into more recent American religious history to ask if evangelicals are different from fundamentalists, and whether or not there’s still a significant difference between those groups and “mainline” Protestants? And just how does Salem and its denomination fit into the story?

10/3 – The Politics, Race, and Gender of Evangelicalism
Halfway through our course, we’ll consider whether “evangelical” has more to do with American views on politics, race, and gender than Christian belief and practice… and whether the debate would look different if we focused on evangelicalism outside of this country.

10/10 – The Future of Evangelicalism
We’ll wrap up by speculating together: Where is evangelicalism headed? Is “evangelical” still a useful term for Christians to use?