One Christian Worldview? Part 4: Evangelical Denominations

One Christian Worldview? Part 4: Evangelical Denominations April 29, 2017

Catholics constituted 20.8% of the adult population in the USA (in 2014, see the Religious Landscape Study), and Christians who belong to Evangelical Protestant denominations constituted 25.4% of the adult population in the USA (in 2014).  So, if we combine Catholics and Evangelicals, they constituted 46.2% of the adult population in the USA (in 2014).  Since 70.6% of adults in the USA were Christians (in 2014), the combination of Catholics and Evangelicals constituted 65.4% of Christian adults in the USA (in 2014):  46.2/70.6 = .654.  In short, in 2014 about 2 out of 3 Christian adults in the USA were either Catholic or belonged to an Evangelical denomination.

So, if the Catholic Church accepts and teaches the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity (as I showed in Part 3 of this series), and if Evangelical Protestant denominations also accept and teach the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity (as I will show in this post), then in 2014 at least 2 out of 3 Christian adults in the USA belonged to a Church or denomination that accepts and teaches the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity.

The Gospel or “The Good News” is the heart of the Christian religion; it is to Christianity what the Four Noble Truths are to Buddhism.  Thus, if the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity represent the Christian worldview (see Part 2 of this series), then they should correspond closely with the content of the Gospel.  A group of Evangelical Christian scholars and leaders formulated a statement spelling out the Gospel which was published in the Evangelical magazine Christianity Today in 1999.  The statement was called “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration“.   As we shall see, that statement clearly teaches and promotes the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity.

Many major protestant denominations are considered to be Evangelical Christian denominations, and these Evangelical denominations occur within a variety of “families” of protestants (e.g. Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc.).  This statement spelling out the Gospel from an Evangelical Christian point of view, was accepted by Evangelical Christian leaders and thinkers from a variety of Evangelical Christian denominations:

Appended to the Gospel statement are the names of some 115 evangelical leaders who have endorsed the document.  They include men and women; they include Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentacostals, Charismatics, and people who belong to other churches.  Among the endorsers are African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Whites.  They minister as presidents of colleges and seminaries, denominational leaders, pastors, evangelists, professors, television and radio executives, publishers, and leaders in parachurch organizations. …

 Since its appearance in July 1999, another eighty-five evangelical leaders have endorsed the Gospel statement, among them Dr. Billy Graham. (This We Believe, p.18; Zondervan Publishing House, 2000)

So, we have good reason to believe that this Gospel statement represents an understanding of the Gospel and of the heart of the Christian faith that is widely shared by Evangelical Christian thinkers and leaders from a wide variety of Evangelical denominations.  If the content of this Gospel statement lines up well with the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity, then we can reasonably conclude that Evangelical Christian churches and denominations accept and teach the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity.

I have just been reading this Gospel statement, and it clearly and repeatedly references and teaches all four of the Four Basic Beliefs.  The first half of the statement consists of 26 paragraphs, which I have identified by the letters A through Z.  The second half of the statement consists of short sections of “Affirmations and Denials” that are numbered (in the document itself) as 1 through 18.

In the first half, there is a three-page section called “The Gospel” (This We Believe, p.241-243).  This short section could, all by itself, be used to show that Evangelical Christian denominations accept and teach the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity.  Some of the paragraphs in that section touch on all four of the Four Basic Beliefs, in a single paragraph.  Here is a small sample from that section:

Through the Gospel we learn that we human beings, who were made for fellowship with God, are by nature–that is, “in Adam” (1 Cor. 15:22)–dead in sin, unresponsive to and separated from our Maker.  We are constantly twisting his truth, breaking his law, belittling his goals and standards, and offending his holiness by our unholiness, so that we truly are “without hope and without God in the world” (Rom. 1:18-32; 3:9-20; Eph. 2:1-3, 12).  Yet God in grace took the initiative to reconcile us to himself through the sinless life and vicarious death of his beloved Son (Eph. 2:4-10; Rom. 3:21-24).

The Father sent the Son to free us from the dominion of sin and Satan, and to make us God’s children and friends.  Jesus paid our penalty in our place on his cross, satisfying the retributive demands of divine justice by shedding his blood in sacrifice and so making possible justification for all who trust in him (Rom. 3:25-26).  The Bible describes this mighty substitutionary transaction as the achieving of ransom, reconciliation, redemption, propitiation, and conquest of evil powers (Matt. 20:28; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 3:23-25; John 12:31; Col. 2:15).  It secures for us a restored relationship with God that brings pardon and peace, acceptance and access, and adoption into God’s family (Col. 1:20; 2:13-14; Rom. 5:1-2; Gal. 4:4-7; 1 Pet. 3:18).  The faith in God and in Christ to which the Gospel calls us is a trustful outgoing of our hearts to lay hold of these promised and proffered benefits.  

(This We Believe, p.241-242)

This Gospel statement produced by a group of Evangelical Christian scholars and leaders repeatedly references and affirms each of the Four Basic Beliefs, as can be seen in the following table (click on the image below for a clearer view of the chart):

Evangelical Gospel Statement Chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based on my review of “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration” it is clear that this statement teaches and promotes the Four Basic Beliefs of Christianity, and thus it is reasonable to conclude that the various Evangelical Christian denominations in the USA accept and teach the Four Basic Beliefs.

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