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Evangelicals and Unevangelicals: The Contested History of a Word, 1500–1950

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2018


“Not Evangelical”! and who is this,

With serpent’s tongue, that dares the sentence hiss?1

—Day K. Lee, Universalist minister, 1841

Recent academic use of the word “evangelical” in American history has been surprisingly static. Drawing upon scholars of “evangelicalism,” historians have been tied to an “essentialist,” or doctrinal, definition of evangelicalism that stretches unbroken from the early eighteenth century to the present. Such ahistorical readings, however, obscure a far more interesting and complex reality. This essay argues that from the Protestant Reformation through the early twentieth century, to be “evangelical” was most often a Protestant-inflected way of being in the world, which at times could have multiple, changing, and contested doctrinal associations. It was a flexible and dynamic idiom, intended to communicate a relative biblical authenticity by those who wielded it. In particular, this essay seeks to recover three overlooked dimensions of the use of the word “evangelical”: first, the firmly Protestant and even anti-Catholic implication of the term that spanned the history of Protestantism from the 1520s to the twentieth century; second, the relative authenticity, “true-Christian” usage, which contained within it a strong “primitivist” impulse with reference to New Testament Christianity; and third, the contested nature of the word, particularly in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when “evangelical” identity supposedly started to become more recognizable.

Research Article
Copyright © Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture 2016

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I am grateful for insights and feedback I received from Brandon Bayne, Teresa Bejan, Edward Blum, Ann Braude, Jon Butler, Heather Curtis, Curtis Evans, David D. Hall, Hendrik Isom, Paul Harvey, Charles Lippy, Katie Lofton, Stephen A. Marini, Lyle Mook, Mark Noll, Rick Taylor, Daniel Vaca, Mark Valeri, and Conrad E. Wright; my Young Scholars in American Religion cohort: John Hayes, Matthew Hedstrom, Quincy Newell, Kevin O’Neil, Josh Paddison, Michael Pasquier, Elaine Peña, Adrian Weimer, Jeffrey Wilson, and Lauren Winner; the participants in the American Religions Seminar at the University of Chicago Divinity School; and the anonymous readers for R&AC. Shelby Lohr provided valuable research assistance for this project.

1. Lee, Day K., “Universalists Are Not Evangelical Christians,” Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate 12 (February 12, 1841): 56.Google Scholar The Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate was a Universalist periodical. The quotation given here is the opening two lines of a longer satirical critique of conservative Protestants for excluding Universalists from the “evangelical” fold in the antebellum era. Lee served as a minister in Universalist churches in Salem,Massachusetts, and Brooklyn,New York. Thomas, Abel, A Century of Universalism in Philadelphia and New York (Philadelphia, 1872), 332 Google Scholar.

2. Bederman, Gail, “‘The Women Have Had Charge of the Church Work Long Enough’: The Men and Religion Forward Movement of 1911-1912 and the Masculinization of Middle-Class Protestantism,” American Quarterly 41 (September 1, 1989): 432–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3. Francis Peabody, Letter to the Editor, Christian Register, January 18, 1912, quoted in Mason, L. Walter, Are Unitarians Evangelical?:OrOrthodoxy Based Upon the Teaching of Paul, Unitarianism Based Upon the Teaching of Jesus ([Pittsburgh], 1912)Google Scholar, 2. I am grateful to Tim Grundmeier for securing a copy of Mason's booklet from the Moody Memorial Library at Baylor University.

4. Ibid., 3.

5. Ibid.

6. “Evangelical” insiders, too, sought to construct historical continuities between the 1970s and prior epochs in American religious history. See, for example, Dayton, Donald W., Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, 1st ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1976).Google Scholar

7. For the renewed interest in American religious history, see May, Henry F., “The Recovery of American Religious History,” American Historical Review 70 (October 1964): 7992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar May traced the origins of this recovery to the 1930s, although the 1960s and 1970s witnessed an even greater increase in scholarship on the topic. Ibid., 81. Notably, however, in 1964, “evangelicals” barely registered in May's recovery project regarding America's religious past (he only used the term once, in a footnote). A decade later, that had changed drastically. For scholarship on historical “evangelicals” in the 1970s, see as a representative sample: Isaac, Rhys, “Evangelical Revolt: The Nature of the Baptists’ Challenge to the Traditional Order in Virginia, 1765 to 1775,” William and Mary Quarterly 31 (July 1974): 345 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Boles, John B., The Great Revival, 1787-1805: The Origins of the Southern Evangelical Mind (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1972)Google Scholar; Stewart, James Brewer, “Evangelicalism and the Radical Strain in Southern Antislavery Thought during the 1820s,” Journal of Southern History 39 (August 1, 1973): 379–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Berk, Stephen E., Calvinism versus Democracy; Timothy Dwight and the Origins of American Evangelical Orthodoxy (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1974)Google Scholar; Faust, Drew Gilpin, “Evangelicalism and the Meaning of the Proslavery Argument: The Reverend Thornton Stringfellow of Virginia,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 85, (January 1, 1977): 317 Google Scholar; Wells, David F. and Woodbridge, John D., eds., The Evangelicals: What They Believe, Who They Are, Where They Are Changing (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1975)Google Scholar.

8. Although it is outside the parameters of this essay, it is important to note that, since the 1970s, historians have applied the label “evangelical” to groups that rarely claimed it, like the large majority of African Protestants, slave and free, inAmerican history; the large number ofwomen who were involved in conservative American Protestant social reform but who seem to have been less concerned with the specific label and identity of “evangelical”; and even Christianized American Indians in the colonial period. See, for example, Brekus, Catherine A., Sarah Osborn’sWorld: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013)Google Scholar; Harvey, Paul, Freedom's Coming: Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Rubin, Julius H., Tears of Repentance: Christian Indian Identity and Community in Colonial Southern New England (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013), 117 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9. Hindmarsh, D. Bruce, John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition: Between the Conversions of Wesley and Wilberforce (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 89 Google Scholar. This vein of scholarship has been occasionally challenged, even from within the subfield of evangelical scholarship. See, for example, Hart, D. G., Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2005)Google Scholar; Dayton, Donald W. and Johnston, Robert K., The Variety of American Evangelicalism, 1st ed. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991)Google Scholar; Krapohl, Robert and Lippy, Charles H., The Evangelicals: A Historical, Thematic, and Biographical Guide (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1999)Google Scholar. For an important but dated discussion of the historiography of evangelicalism, see Sweet, Leonard I., “The Evangelical Tradition in America,” in The Evangelical Tradition in America (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1984)Google Scholar; Sweet, Leonard I., “Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves: The New Evangelical Historiography,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56 (October 1, 1988): 397416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

10. Bebbington, David W., Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, revised ed. (London: Routledge, 1989), 2 Google Scholar. Randall Balmer and Lauren F. Winner have offered an even simpler definition: evangelicals believe in the “centrality of a conversion or ‘bornagain’ experience,” and “they take the Bible seriously,” even “literally.” Balmer, Randall and Winner, Lauren F., Protestantism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 2223.Google Scholar

11. “What Is an Evangelical?” Accessed 9/20/13.

12. Kidd, Thomas S., The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), xiv Google Scholar. Noll, Mark A., The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2004), 269 Google Scholar.

13. Hutchinson, Mark and Wolffe, John, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism, 1st ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 1011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. W. R. Ward has suggested that a cluster of shared ideas existed across confessions and geographies by the early eighteenth century, which formed an “evangelical hexagon.” See Ward, W. R., Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670-1789 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar For a more narrative and modern definition of present-day evangelicals, see George, Timothy, “Directions: If I’m an Evangelical, What am I?” August 9, 1999., accessed September 10, 2013Google Scholar.

14. Smith, Gerald Birney, “The Spirit of Evangelical Christianity,” The Journal of Religion 2, (November 1, 1922): 627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

15. Donald Dayton made a brief case for understanding at least several iterations of “evangelicalism” in Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, 137–39.

16. Carroll, H. K., The Religious Forces of the United States, Enumerated, Classified, and Described on the Basis of the Government Census of 1890 (New York: The Christian Literature Co., 1893)Google Scholar. See the discussion below.

17. Pokorný, Petr, From the Gospel to the Gospels: History, Theology and Impact of the Biblical Term “Euangelion” (Boston, Mass.: Walter de Gruyter, 2013), 12 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

18. Gifford, Edwin Hamilton, Preparation for the Gospel (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1981)Google Scholar. For the early modern translation of “Evangelical Preparation,” see Acosta, José de, Natural and Moral History of the Indies (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2002), 429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

19. See, for example, Gregory, Brad S., Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe, 1st ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999)Google Scholar; Benedict, Philip, Christ's Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004)Google Scholar. See also Simons, Menno, The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, ed. Wenger, J. C., trans. Leonard Verduin (Waterloo, Ont.: Herald Press, 1984), 533.Google Scholar

20. Sandoval, Alonso de, Lyra, Francisco de, and Arteaga, Bartolomé, Naturaleza, policia sagrada i profana, costumbres i ritos, disciplina i catechismo evangelico de todos los etiopes (En Sevilla, por Francisco de Lira impresor, 1627)Google Scholar. See also Acosta, José de, Historia natural y moral de las Indias (Madrid: R. Anglés, 1894), 348.Google Scholar

21. For the full text of Session XXIV and the canons relating to the sacrament of matrimony in the Council of Trent, see See also Adrichem, Christiaan van, A Briefe Description of Hierusalem and of the Suburbs Therof, as It Florished in the Time of Christ, trans. Tymme, Thomas (London: Peter Short, 1595), 4.Google Scholar

22. At the turn of the twentieth century, European historians began using the term “Evangelism” to designate an ecumenical Catholic reforming movement in Germany, France, Spain, and Italy between roughly 1500 and 1540. Jung, Eva-Maria, “On the Nature of Evangelism in Sixteenth-Century Italy,” Journal of the History of Ideas 14 (October 1, 1953): 511–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

23. See, for example, Allen, William, A Discourse of the Nature, Ends, and Difference of the Two Covenants Evincing in Special, That Faith as Justifying, Is Not Opposed to Works of Evangelical Obedience (London: Printed by J. Darby for Richard Chiswell, 1673), 134 Google Scholar.

24. One such example is Hubbard, William, The Benefit of a Well-Ordered Conversation (Boston: Samuel Green, 1684), 106 Google Scholar. Hubbard notes that “there are Evangelical Commandments, as well as legal.”

25. See, for example, Locke, John and McNamee, Robert, “John Locke to James Tyrrell, 14 August 1690,” July 1, 2013, Scholar

26. The definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary reflect these various uses as well. See entry for “evangelical,” OED Online, accessed September 27, 2012.

27. Over time, one particular subgroup became known as the “Evangelicks,” which at least one writer identified as “Lutherans of the Confession of Augsburg.” Frankland, Thomas, The Annals of King James and King Charles the First (London: Printed by Tho. Braddyll, for Robert Clavel, 1681), 38 Google Scholar.

28. Joshua de Kocherthal to the Queen [1708?], and Mr. Secretary Boyle to the Council of Trade and Plantations, April 20, 1708, Calendar of State Papers, America and the West Indies, Vol. 23: 17061708, 720-21Google Scholar. For de Kocherthal as a “Lutheran,” see Council of Trade and Plantations to Mr. Secretary Boyle, April 28, 1708, Calendar of State Papers, America and the West Indies, Vol. 23: 17061708, 723-24Google Scholar. For another example, see Bailyn, Bernard, “The Idea of Atlantic History,” Itinerario 20, (1996): 3233 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Bailyn calls Ebenezer, Georgia, a “frontier evangelical village.”

29. See, for example, Croswell, Andrew, What Is Christ to Me, If He Is Not Mine? Or, A Seasonable Defence of the Old Protestant Doctrine of Justifying Faith (Boston: Rogers and Fowle, 1745), 34.Google Scholar

30. New Hampshire State Constitution, Part 1, Article 6., accessed March 18, 2013. Emphasis added. Notably, the phrase “evangelical principles” was replaced with “high principles” at some point in the nineteenth century, although the official online copy of the Constitution does not note when this substitution was made. html, accessed March 18, 2013.

31. See the New Hampshire State Constitution, Part 2, Articles 14, 29, and 42., accessed March 18, 2013. See also the discussion in Sehat, David, The Myth of American Religious Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 8 Google Scholar.

32. Halyburton, Thomas, Natural Religion Insufficient, and Revealed Necessary, to Man's Happiness in His Present State: Or, A Rational Enquiry into the Principles of the Modern Deists (Philadelphia: Hogan & M’Elroy, 1798), 68 Google Scholar.

33. Baxter, Richard, Jesuit Juggling: Forty Popish Frauds Detected and Disclosed (New York: Craighead & Allen, 1835), xiii.Google Scholar

34. Ewing, John W., Goodly Fellowship: A Centenary Tribute to the Life and Work of the World's Evangelical Alliance, 1846-1946 (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1946), 26, 49Google Scholar. On the anti-Catholic nature of the Evangelical Alliance, see also Ahlstrom, Sydney E., A Religious History of the American People, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 559 Google Scholar.

35. Phalen, William J., American Evangelical Protestantism and European Immigrants, 1800-1924 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2011), 90 Google Scholar.

36. “The American Protestant Association,” Christian Register and Boston Observer (1835-1843), March 25, 1843, 1.Google Scholar

37. The Presbyterian Robert Baird reported to his readers that an attempt was under way in the 1840s for “a plan of union for all the evangelical Protestant churches” that would “all unite in opposing, on the one hand, the errors of Rome.” Baird, Robert, Religion in America: Or an Account of the Origin, Relation to the State, and Present Condition of the Evangelical Churches in the United States: With Notices of the Unevangelical Denominations (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1844), 268–69.Google Scholar

38. Protestant Magazine, vol. 17 (London, 1855), 78 Google Scholar.

39. “Protestant Evangelical Religion,” New York Evangelist 47, (July 27, 1876): 6.Google Scholar

40. For a complete listing of the table of contents of all issues of the Evangelical Quarterly, see Accessed March 11, 2013.

41. Some historians have recognized this usage. Hutchinson and Wolffe, for example, parenthetically recognize that the actual word evangelical “has a much longer history, as both a noun and an adjective.” This important insight goes relatively unexplored and essentially has no bearing on how the authors understand the eighteenth century as the supposed origins of the movement. Hutchinson and Wolffe, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism, 6.

42. For primitivism within Puritanism, see Bozeman, Theodore Dwight, To Live Ancient Lives: The Primitivist Dimension in Puritanism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009)Google Scholar.

43. François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon, The Archbishop of Cambray's Dissertation on Pure Love (London: Luke Hinde, 1735), lxxl.Google Scholar

44. Taken from a survey by the author and Shelby Lohr of early modern printed texts using Early English Books Online and Early American Imprints.

45. Regarding Isaiah, see, for example, Evans, David, The Minister of Christ, and the Duties of His Flock (Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin, 1732), 92 Google Scholar, where Evans refers to “that most excellent evangelical prophet Isaiah.”

46. Shepard, Thomas, The Sound Beleever. Or, A Treatise of Evangelicall Conversion (London: printed for R. Dawlman, 1645)Google Scholar.

47. This is so widespread in the literature that only a representative sample can be given here. The most recent definitive work on global evangelicalism makes Jonathan Edwards and the 1730s the official start of “evangelicalism,” with the Continental pietistic reforms of the late seventeenth century as “the prehistory of the evangelicalmovement.”Hutchinson and Wolffe, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism, 25. See also Kidd, The Great Awakening; Sweeney, Douglas A., The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2005); Ward, Early EvangelicalismGoogle Scholar; Yeager, Jonathan M., ed., Early Evangelicalism: A Reader (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

48. W. R. Ward is perhaps the strongest advocate for locating the origins of “evangelicalism” prior to the Evangelical Revival / First Great Awakening. See, for example, Ward, Early Evangelicalism, 6–7. But it is important to note that the impulse that led Philip Spener to develop a more heart-centered and simplistic mode of Christianity in opposition to the Lutheran orthodoxy of the 1670s was not entirely different from the impulse that led Luther to protest against the Catholic church in 1517.

49. Ibid., 3.

50. For a discussion of shared “evangelical” characteristics in the eighteenth century (but that seem to apply more to Baptist than other groups), see Juster, Susan, Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994), viii.Google Scholar Catherine Brekus also sees evidence of a particular engagement with Enlightenment ideas as a theme within early so-called evangelicalism. See Brekus, Sarah Osborn's World, 8–11.

51. Collinson, Patrick, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 27 Google Scholar.

52. On Cotton Mather as an early “evangelical,” see Lovelace, Richard F., The American Pietism of Cotton Mather: Origins of American Evangelicalism (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2007)Google Scholar; Kennedy, Rick, The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2015).Google Scholar

53. Mather, Cotton, Robbins, Thomas, and Drake, Samuel Gardner, Magnalia Christi Americana: Or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England; from Its First Planting, in the Year 1620, Unto the Year of Our Lord 1698. In Seven Books, vol. 1 (Hartford: S. Andrus and Son, 1855), 1:26Google Scholar; Mather, Cotton, Robbins, Thomas, and Drake, Samuel Gardner, Magnalia Christi Americana, vol. 2, 2 vols. (Hartford: S. Andrus and Son, 1853)Google Scholar. See also Owen, John, Some Considerations about Union among Protestants, and the Preservation of the Interest of the Protestant Religion in This Nation (London: Printed by T.S., 1680), 12 Google Scholar.

54. See, for example, the obituary for Milton minister Peter Thatcher: “Milton, Saturday, December 23,” New England Weekly Journal, December 25, 1727, 2.Google Scholar

55. Despite historians’ ongoing use of the word “evangelical” with regard to conservative Protestants in the early eighteenth century, most will admit that the word was rarely used self-referentially in the colonial period. See Hutchinson and Wolffe, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism, 5. Hindmarsh, , John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 1 Google Scholar.

56. See, for example, a sermon by Gilbert Tennent in 1752 in which he spoke of “The Doctrine of Regeneration by the Holy Ghost, Repentance from dead Works, and the Practice of evangelical universal Holiness.” Tennent, Gilbert, The Divine Government over All Considered, and the Necessity of Gratitude, for Benefits Conferred, (by It,) Represented, in Two Sermons, Preach’d June the 7th. 1752 (Philadelphia: William Bradford, 1752), 71 Google Scholar.

57. Whitefield, George, A Letter to the Reverend Dr. Chauncy (Boston: S. Kneeland and T. Green, 1745).Google Scholar

58. Douglas Sweeny includes the Evangelical Magazine and the Arminian Magazine in his listing of Great Awakening era periodicals, but these were not founded until later (in the case of the Arminian Magazine, not until the 1770s). Sweeney, The American Evangelical Story, 29.

59. Noll, The Rise of Evangelicalism, 118. See also Durden, Susan, “A Study of the First Evangelical Magazines, 1740–1748,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 27 (1976): 255–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Long, Kathryn, The Revival of 1857–58: Interpreting an American Religious Awakening (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 28 Google Scholar. Hansen, Collin, “The First Evangelical Magazine,” February 9, 2010, Christian History Blog, Accessed September 20, 2012Google Scholar. See also Sweeney, The American Evangelical Story, 29.

60. As Hindmarsh notes, “none of the revival magazines lasted beyond 1748.” Hindmarsh, D. Bruce, The Evangelical Conversion Narrative: Spiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 72 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. This is not to say that the Great Awakening should not be understood as a time of change. I am merely suggesting that with regard to parsing the origins and history of a distinct, self-conscious, evangelicalism that feels “modern” and contemporary, neither the usage nor the self-conscious organization yet existed in the 1740s or even 1750s other than around ideas related to revivalism. For an argument about the relative unimportance of the “First Great Awakening,” see Butler, Jon, “Enthusiasm Described and Decried: The Great Awakening as Interpretive Fiction,” Journal of American History 69 (October 1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

61. Hutchinson, Thomas, The History of Massachusetts (Salem, Mass.: Thomas C. Cushing, 1795)Google Scholar.

62. Dyke, Jeremiah, Sixe Evangelical Histories (London: Printed by T[homas] S[nodham], 1617)Google Scholar; Monotessaron, the Evangelical Harmonie: Reducing the Foure Evangelists into One Continued Context: And in It the Entire Historie of the Acts and Sayings, Life and Death of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Duely Ordered according to the Distinction of the Times (Cambridge [Eng.]: Printed by Thomas Buck and Roger Daniel, 1634)Google Scholar; Paynell, Thomas, The Pandectes of the Evangelical Lawe: Comprisyng the Whol Hystorie of Christes Gospell (London: N. Hyll, 1553)Google Scholar; Pin, Louis Ellies Du, The Evangelical History: Or, The Life of Our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ Comprehensively and Plainly Related. (London: Printed for Abel Swall and T. Childe, 1694)Google Scholar.

63. Pilkington, Matthew, The Evangelical History and Harmony (London: W. Bowyer, 1747)Google Scholar.

64. “To the Publisher of the Boston Gazette,” The Boston Gazette, December 18, 1750, p.

65. Rutter, Henry, Evangelical Harmony; or: The History of the Life and Doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Four Evangelists (London: Keating, Brown, and Keating, 1803)Google Scholar.

66. Newton, John, A Review of Ecclesiastical History (Wilmington, Del.: James Wilson, 1807), 286 Google Scholar. Originally published in 1769, Newton here used “apology” with the intended meaning of “defense.” See also Wood, Arthur S., “John Newton's Church History,” Evangelical Quarterly 23 (1951): 5170 Google Scholar; Hindmarsh, John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition.

67. Hindmarsh, John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition, 318. Although Newton only got to volume two in his planned ecclesiastical history, Joseph Milner completed much of what Newton intended in 1794 in his History of the Church of Christ. Essentially a response to Catholic polemicists who accused Protestants of being church-less before Luther, Milner's answer was to demonstrate “that, from days of Peter and Paul, there had been an unbroken succession of Christian teachers and of Christian societies, among whom the eternal fire of gospel truth had burnt pure and undefiled by the errors which were abjured in the sixteenth century by the half of Christendom.” Stephen, Sir James, “The Evangelical Succession,” in Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography, vol. 2 (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1853), 157 Google Scholar.

68. Stephen, “The Evangelical Succession,” 157.

69. In England, organization under the umbrella of “evangelical” slowly reached a level that was not possible in the United States, simply because of the lack of an established church. Between roughly 1789 and 1850, there was an identifiable “Evangelical Party” within the Church of England that contrasted to the “High Party” and attracted a growing number of parishioners and ministers who wished to renew the church from within, not simply to leave it for a splinter movement, like Methodism. Members of the “Clapham Sect”—which worked to bring about the end of the slave trade in the British Empire—were associated with this “evangelical” movement within Anglicanism. Evangelical parties also existed within the Church of Ireland and the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Balleine, George Reginald, A History of the Evangelical Party in the Church of England (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908), vii Google Scholar. See also Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, 75–150.

70. Often overlooked in the discussions of Protestant missionary efforts are the various seventeenth- and eighteenth-century missionary societies, such as the New England Company (1649), the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1701), the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (1709), and the Society for Propagating the Gospel among Indians and Others in North America (1787). See Linford D. Fisher, “‘Not in Our Neighborhood’: American Indians, the Founding of the SPGNA, and the Turn to International Missions in the Early Republic,” Common-Place 15 (2015).

71. On the seventeenth-century missionary attempts to the American Indians, see Kellaway, William, The New England Company, 1649–1776: Missionary Society to the American Indians ([London]: Longmans, 1961)Google Scholar; Cogley, Richard W., John Eliot's Mission to the Indians before King Philip's War (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999)Google Scholar. For the eighteenth century, see Glasson, Travis, Mastering Christianity: Missionary Anglicanism and Slavery in the Atlantic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)Google Scholar; Fisher, Linford D., The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Indian Cultures in Early America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Merritt, Jane T., “Dreaming of the Savior's Blood: Moravians and the Indian Great Awakening in Pennsylvania,” William and Mary Quarterly 54 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

72. Collier, William, Sanctuary Waters, Or, The Spread of the Gospel: A Sermon, Preached before the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society at Their Annual Meeting, Boston, May 28, 1806 (Boston: Manning and Loring, printer, 1806), 24 Google Scholar.

73. The Connecticut Evangelical Magazine vol. 1:1 (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1801), title pageGoogle Scholar.

74. Bushman, Richard Lyman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Vintage Books, 2007), 261.Google Scholar

75. “Title ‘Jesuit,’” The Jesuit; Or, Catholic Sentinel 1 (September 5, 1829): 2.Google Scholar

76. Jacobs, Isidor, “Christian Science from the Jewish View- Point,” in The Christian Science Journal, vol. 26 (Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1908), 215 Google Scholar. Jacobs asserted that more Jews had been “won to Christ” by Christian Scientists than by “other Christian efforts during the last century.” Unitarians and Universalists were involved in evangelistic activity in the nineteenth century as well. See, for example, Wright, Conrad Edick, The Transformation of Charity in Postrevolutionary New England (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992)Google Scholar.

77. Tappan, David, A Funeral Discourse, Delivered to the Benevolent Congregational Society in Providence, in the State of Rhode Island, on the Lord’s Day after the Interment of Enos Hitchcock D.D., Who Died February 27, 1803, in the 59th Year of His Age (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1803), 18 Google Scholar.

78. For a representative sample, see “Evangelical Preaching,” Christian Disciple 4, no. 11 (November 4, 1816); “Evangelical Christians,” Universalist Watchman, Repository and Chronicle 16 (January 11, 1845): 206; “On the Term Evangelical,” Christian Reformer; or Evangelical Miscellany 1 (July 1, 1828); “Evangelical Preaching,” Christian Advocate 64 (January 3, 1889): 1; “Evangelical; What Is It?” New York Evangelist 71 (September 6, 1900): 6; “Evangelical Religion,” The Independent … Devoted to the Consideration of Politics, Social and Economic Tendencies, History, Literature, and the Arts 9 (February 5, 1857): 4; “Evangelical Christianity Contrasted with Rational Christianity,” Utica Christian Repository 2, (September 1823); “Term ‘Evangelical,’” Washington Theological Repertory 8, (October 1, 1827): 681.

79. Unevangelical, “Evangelical,” German Reformed Messenger 32, no. 32 (April 10, 1867): 2 Google Scholar.

80. “General Summary of the Principal Religious Denominations in the United States,” The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge (Boston: Charles Brown, 1836), 138ff. Another example of this is Hannah Adams's An Alphabetical Compendium of the Various Sects which Have Appeared in the World from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Present Day, which, published in 1784, used “evangelical” only once, with regard to Quakers. Adams, Hannah, A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations, Jewish, Heathen, Mahometan and Christian, Ancient and Modern (New York: James Eastburn, 1817)Google Scholar. Yet another example is Jedidiah Morse's incredibly popular The American Universal Geography (1789, with more than twenty subsequent editions), which listed out the main denominations in the United States in great detail, without ever utilizing the word “evangelical.” Morse, Jedidiah, The American Universal Geography, Or, A View of the Present State of All the Empires, Kingdoms, States, and Republics in the Known World, and of the United States of America in Particular: In Two Parts (Boston: Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews, 1793), 1:251–70Google Scholar.

81. Baird, Religion in America. For a brief discussion of Baird’s taxonomy, see Moore, R. Laurence, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 57 Google Scholar.

82. For a full listing of Baird's “Evangelical” churches, see Baird, Religion in America, xii. On the usual lumping of Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians as “evangelical,” see Heyrman, Christine Leigh, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998)Google Scholar.

83. Baird, Religion in America, xii.

84. Ibid., 270.

85. For a full listing, see ibid., 289–90.

86. Ibid.

87. Baird, Robert, State and Prospects of Religion in America: Being a Report Made at the Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, in Paris, August 25th, 1855 (London: Edward Suter, 1855), 58 Google Scholar.

88. “Are Methodists Evangelical?” Zion's Herald and Wesleyan Journal 35 (November 2, 1864): 174.Google Scholar The conversation continued in subsequent issues: “‘Semi-Evangelical’ Again,” Zion's Herald and Wesleyan Journal 35 (November 23, 1864): 186 Google Scholar.

89. “Our St. Louis Letter, Western Unitarian Conference,” Christian Advocate 56, (June 23, 1881): 5.Google Scholar

90. Hatch, Nathan O., The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 181–82.Google Scholar

91. Backus, Isaac, The Doctrine of Universal Salvation Examined and Refuted: Containing, a Concise and Distinct Answer to the Writings of Mr. Relly, and Mr. Winchester, Upon That Subject (Providence: John Carter, 1782), 19 Google Scholar.

93. Grundy, John, Evangelical Christianity Considered: And Shewn to Be Synonimous with Unitarianism, in a Course of Lectures on Some of the Most Controverted Points of Christian Doctrine Addressed to Trinitarians, 2 vols. (London: Printed by C. Stower, 1813)Google Scholar. Volume one included 514 pages of text. Printed announcements for the book indicate there was a second volume as well, but only the first volume is widely available today. Campbell, Thomas et al., New Monthly Magazine vol. 2 (London: Henry Colburn, 1814), 348 Google Scholar.

93. Grundy, , Evangelical Christianity Considered, 1:461 Google Scholar.

94. Ibid., 463–64. Emphasis in the original.

95. Ibid., 464. Emphasis in the original.

96. Ibid. Emphasis in the original.

97. “Evangelical Christians,” 206.

98. See, for example, Thacher, Samuel Cooper, An Apology for Rational and Evangelical Christianity: A Discourse at the Dedication of a New Church on Church Green, Summer Street, Boston (Boston: T. B. Wait and Sons, 1815), 29 Google Scholar; Backus, The Doctrine of Universal Salvation Examined and Refuted, 19.

99. “Evangelical Conversion,” Universalist Watchman, Repository and Chronicle 3 (August 13, 1831): 121.Google Scholar

100. Young, Alexander, “Evangelical Unitarianism Adapted to the Poor and Unlearned,” in Tracts of the American Unitarian Association 1st ser., no. 36 (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830), 276 Google Scholar.

101. Eddy, Mary Baker, Science and Health (Boston: Christian Science Pub. Co., 1875), chapGoogle Scholar.

102. “Based on the Bible—Teaching of Christian Science,” Los Angeles Times, January 4, 1903, D7 Google Scholar. According to the newspaper report, Norton was a high-ranking member of the Board of Lectureship of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.

103. Ibid.

104. Snell, Merwin-Marie, “EvangelicalHinduism,” Biblical World 6 (October 1, 1895): 270–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Snell, Merwin-Marie, “Evangelical Buddhism,” Biblical World 7 (March 1, 1896): 182–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Biblical World was the predecessor to the Journal of Religion, which is today published by the Divinity School of Chicago University.

105. For more on the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions, see Seager, Richard Hughes, The World's Parliament of Religions: The East/West Encounter, Chicago, 1893 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009)Google Scholar. Snell's definition of evangelical was broad and encompassing, even within the Christian tradition: it is the impulse within Christianity in which “tired alike of the theological disputations, ceremonial complexities, casuistic moral laws, painful self-disciplines, and politico-ecclesiastic intrigues, men sought to throw aside all these things and to take refuge in a simple religion of loving trust in an all-sufficient personal human Saviour.” Snell, “Evangelical Hinduism,” 270–71.

106. Snell, “Evangelical Hinduism,” 277.

107. Many other examples of this abound. In most cases, Unitarians and Universalists challenged the very definition of “evangelical” – definitions that were intended to exclude them. See, for example, Octogenirian, An Evangelical, “Evangelical,” Christian Inquirer 6 (December 6, 1851): 1 Google Scholar; Burnap, G. W., “Unitarianism Evangelical Christianity,” Christian Inquirer 9 (January 27, 1855): 1 Google Scholar; Heywood, John H., A Discourse on the Evangelical Character of Unitarian Christianity (Louisville: Morton and Griswold, 1859)Google Scholar.

108. Schaff, Philip, The Creeds of Christendom: The History of Creeds (New York: Harper, 1877), xv Google Scholar. Although given Schaff's Germanic background, he may well have been using “evangelical” in a more classically Protestant vein (which, if so, merely highlights the continued vagueness of the term).

109. For a brief history of religion and the U.S. Census, see Rosen, Anne Farris, “Appendix 3: A Brief History of Religion and the U.S. Census,” in U.S. Religious Landscape Survey (Washington, D.C.: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2008), 108–12.Google Scholar

110. Carroll, , The Religious Forces of the United States, Enumerated, Classified, and Described on the Basis of the Government Census of 1890, xlvixlvii Google Scholar; “Religious Aspect of the Last United States Census,” in The Christian Yearbook (Dayton: Christian Publishing Associates, 1894), 20–21. The “Non-Evangelical” denominations included Church of the New Jerusalem, Friends (Hicksite), German Evangelical Protestant, and Unitarians.

111. Carroll, , The Religious Forces of the United States, Enumerated, Classified, and Described on the Basis of the Government Census of 1890, xviii Google Scholar.

112. Ibid., xlvi.

113. United States Bureau of the Census and William Chamberlin Hunt, Religious Bodies: 1906 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1910), 3031 Google Scholar. There is a category for “Evangelical Bodies” within the listing of Protestant groups, but it only contains two denominations: the Evangelical Association and the United Evangelical Church.

114. My thanks to Jeff Wilson for pushing me to think in this direction.

115. The U.S. Federal Census of 1890, for example, listed only four “Non-Evangelical” denominations; with 67,749 members, Unitarians were the most numerous of the four. Carroll, , The Religious Forces of the United States, Enumerated, Classified, and Described on the Basis of the Government Census of 1890, xlvii Google Scholar; “Religious Aspect of the Last United States Census,” 21.

116. Mason, Are Unitarians Evangelical?

117. Peabody, Francis G., “War No Time for Sectarianism,” New York Times, March 31, 1918, 62.Google Scholar

118. Ibid.

119. Harrington quotes Emerson as saying, “Read in Plato and you shall find the Christian dogmas, and not only so, but stumble on our Evangelical phrases.” Donald Szantho Harrington, “Unitarian Universalism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: A Sermon Preached on the Occasion of the Celebration of the Consolidation of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America,” May 23, 1960, 5,

120. Ibid.

121. Good studies of fundamentalism include Marsden, George, Fundamentalism and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980)Google Scholar; Bendroth, Margaret Lamberts, Fundamentalists in the City: Conflict and Division in Boston's Churches, 1885–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

122. White, Ronald C. and Hopkins, Charles Howard, The Social Gospel: Religion and Reform in Changing America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976)Google Scholar; Rauschenbusch, Walter, A Theology for the Social Gospel (New York: Macmillan Company, 1917)Google Scholar.

123. Larson, Edward J., Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion (New York: Basic Books, 2006)Google Scholar.

124. Menken, H. L., “Obituary of William Jennings Bryan,” Baltimore Evening Sun, July 27, 1925.Google Scholar

125. One example of the defense of one version of an “evangelical” worldview in the 1930s is Gaebelein, Frank E., “An Evangelical’s Defense,” North American Review 232 (July 1, 1931): 2632 Google Scholar. “Neo-Evangelical” was actually a term that had already been used in England in the 1860s in an attempt to revive a flagging Evangelical Party faction within the Church of England. In a sense, this only further illustrates the point that the goal is always yet an even more authentic true expression of Christianity. Smith, Mark and Taylor, Stephen, Evangelicalism in the Church of England c.1790– c.1890: A Miscellany (New York: Boydell Press, 2004), 302 Google Scholar.

126. MacDonald, A., “Modern Thought and the Evangelical Standpoint,” The Evangelical Quarterly 4 (October 1932): 349–58.Google Scholar

127. See Wacker, Grant, America's Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Williams, Daniel K., God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

128. Barth, Karl, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963)Google Scholar; Worthen, Molly, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 1516 Google Scholar.

129. As just a representative sample, see: Williams, God's Own Party; Dochuk, Darren, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011)Google Scholar; Worthen, Apostles of Reason; Miller, Steven P., The Age of Evangelicalism: America's Born-Again Years (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sutton, Matthew Avery, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

130. On the varieties of evangelicalism, see Balmer, Randall, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)Google Scholar; Dayton and Johnston, The Variety of American Evangelicalism; Smith, Christian, Christian America? What Evangelicals Really Want, 1st edition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000)Google Scholar; Smith, Christian, American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving, 1st ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998)Google Scholar. According to a 2013 study, however, “evangelical” political affiliations have become more unified over the past thirty years, despite the growth of the evangelical left. “In Defeats, Evangelicals’ Political Unity at All-Time High: In Three Decades, Born-Again Voters Have Gone from an Even Split to 4-to-1 Republican,” Christianity Today, accessed September 28, 2013, For a different perspective on evangelical voting patterns, see “Evangelical Voters: Lift Every Voice,” Economist, May 5, 2012., accessed September 28, 2015.

131. See, for example, Hempton, David, Evangelical Disenchantment: Nine Portraits of Faith and Doubt, 1st ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008)Google Scholar. The current debate over whether the Emergent Church is evangelical or not is another more contemporary example. See Henard, William David and Greenway, Adam W., Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: A Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement (Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2009)Google Scholar.

132. On Pentecostalism, see Wacker, Grant, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001)Google Scholar. For a strong argument regarding the internationally coherent nature of “global evangelicalism”—despite the lack of evangelical selfdefinition by some of these global Protestants—see Hutchinson and Wolffe, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism.

133. Weigel, George, “The Christ-Centered Pope: The Catholic Church and the World Wrestle with an Evangelical Papacy,” National Review Online, accessed October 3, 2013, Scholar The ongoing online debates and handwringing over the definition and history of what it means to be “evangelical” also illustrate the nebulous and ephemeral quality of the term, even in the present. See, for example, Wright, Bradley, “What, Exactly, Is Evangelical Christianity?” Black, White and Gray, accessed November 17, 2013, Google Scholar; Clark, Fred, “‘What Is an Evangelical?’ Part 3,947 …,” Slacktivist, accessed November 18, 2013, Google Scholar; “An Evangelical Manifesto: The Washington Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment,” May 7, 2008, See also Webber, Robert E., Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith, ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009), 3133 Google Scholar. See also Webber, Robert E., “Who are the Evangelicals?” USA Today 115 (1987), 89 Google Scholar.

134. George Washington Burnap, Popular Objections to Unitarian Christianity: Considered and Answered in Seven Discourses (Boston: Crosby and Nichols, 1848), 93 Google Scholar. As Grundy had done half a century earlier, and as Francis Peabody would do half a century later, Burnap fought fire with fire. “We claim to be Gospel or Evangelical Christians,” Burnap insisted, “because we go to the Gospels, and to the Gospels alone, for our religion… . and there fore we claim to be regarded as preeminently Evangelical Christians.” Ibid., 107–8.

135. “Evangelical; What Is It?” 6.

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