The Advent of Evangelicalism “highly commended” in Baptist Quarterly

22Jul09

“David Bebbington’s Evangelicalism in Modern Britain (1989) was quickly recognized as a major contribution to our understanding of the history of this movement. This substantial work offers a critical study of aspects of his thesis. The chapters range from a survey of the book’s reception since 1989 by Timothy Larsen and ‘Evangelicalism and the Enlightenment’ by Michael Haykin to regional studies covering Scotland (Andrew McGowan), Wales (Densil Morgan). England (David Ceri Jones). New England (Thomas Kidd), and the Netherlands (Joel Beeke). In addition, there are era perspectives on Martin Luther (Cameron Mackenzie), Calvin and Toplady (Paul Helm), Thomas Cranmer (Ashley Null), Puritanism (John Coffey). Jonathan Edwards (Douglas Sweeney and Brandon Withrow), and nineteenth-century perceptions on the origins of Evangelicalism (Ian Shaw). The last section of the book covers evangelical doctrines including ‘Evangelical Conversion Narratives’ (Bruce Hindmarsh), `Enlightenment epistemology and assurance’ (Gary Williams). `Evangelical Eschatology’ (Crawford Gribben), ‘The Evangelical doctrine of Scripture’ (Kenneth Stewart), followed by a response from David Bebbington.

As a result of this scholarly interaction it is clear that a more refined understanding of Evangelical activism post 1730 emerges than previously understood. On the contested subject of assurance, it appears there was a greater degree of continuity between the Reformers and later Evangelicals in Scotland and the Netherlands. but less so amongst the Puritans in England and Jonathan Edwards in New England, therefore assurance was a more complex matter than Evangelicalism had previously allowed. On the topic of the Bible, Stewart demonstrates that it was mistaken to claim Louis Gaussen as the first to argue for biblical inerrancy as there were earlier defences of the absence of error in Scripture. The majority of the Bebbington thesis, however, has withstood this critical scrutiny. It is an impressive work, highly commended.”

 – Brian Talbot, Broughty Ferry, Scotland, January, 2009 Baptist Quarterly.

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