World Faiths & Religions

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where did evangelicalism begin?

In a long term sense, evangelicalism traces its roots to Jesus of Nazareth.  Since the term "evangelical" derives from the Greek word for "good news" or "gospel," evangelicals look to the New Testament accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the ensuing evangelistic ministries of his disciples as the origin of their movement. The term "evangelical" found new prominence in the 18th and 19th century as networks of British and North American Protestants joined together for the purpose of encouraging evangelism, missions, revival, and reform.

By the late 19th century this "evangelical empire" began to split into Fundamentalist and Modernist camps in response to new questions originating out of science, industrialism, and biblical criticism. In the 1960s a group of former Fundamentalists began to appropriate the label "evangelical" again to describe a new cultural engagement and spirit of cooperation between theologically conservative Protestants for the purpose of education and evangelism. Centered around the ministry of Billy Graham and publications like Christianity Today, these "neo-evangelicals" created or influenced networks, parachurch movements, and institutions of higher learning to retain conservative theological principles, but engage a wider cultural, political, and social sphere.