Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 June 2021
Micah Watson argues that an active conscience is the outgrowth of the evangelical mind. Evangelicalism is the form of Protestantism that relies on the truths of historical Christianity while navigating between mainline Protestantism and fundamentalism. For evangelicals, conscience is founded in the Bible, particularly the writings of Paul. It also flowered in the post-Reformation world, where it was taught that an active conscience signaled a person’s salvation. Conscience also led evangelicals to be active against all forms of sinfulness. In the United States, this contributed to the proliferation of voluntary societies, where Christians who were “saved for service” could exercise their consciences to spread the Gospel or stamp out perceived evils (like alcohol use). Watson traces the history of evangelical conscience into the twentieth century, and he describes voices like Carl Henry and others who sought harmony between the pious strand of evangelicalism, and adherents who were committed to social action. Later in the twentieth century, evangelicals sought peace in society more than saving it. Still, evangelicals continue to oppose perceived social evils, including same-sex marriage.