THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICALISM

Theological Aspects

a)            An emphasis on the sinfulness of humankind and the need of salvation, with concepts such as the 'fall' and 'original sin'.

b)            A stress upon our 'reward in heaven', as exemplified by a preacher I heard recently who said: 'Do you realise that you will get a golden crown?'

c)            The importance of the Bible regarded as inerrant, with inconsistencies and difficulties explained away.

d)            God seen as a Trinity Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

e)            The Father very often portrayed as judge and seen as severe.

f)             Jesus regarded as born of a virgin, fully human, fully divine, dying saviour, living Lord, and returning King.

g)            The Holy Spirit seen as God's presence in the world, but with little emphasis, in my experience, on the 'gifts of the Spirit', eg speaking in tongues.

h)            The 'judgement' after death regarded as a certainty, with a good outcome only for those who were 'saved'.

i)             Holy Communion seen as a family meal rather than a sacrament, and generally practised twice a month.

j)                      An apparent belief in the volume of prayer being able to affect how God works, coupled with belief in a God who intervenes in the day-to-day life of the world.

Impact on the life of the individual

k)            'Salvation' seen as an event rather than a process, with the need to 'make a decision for Christ' (under a good deal of pressure), and best if you could point to a date.

l)             The importance of baptism as a believer by immersion and of formal church membership.

m)           The importance of tithing, that is giving a tenth of one's income to the church.

n)            The importance of 'service' to the church, ie taking responsibilities, coupled with the feeling that whatever one is doing more should be done (to the detriment very often of family life).

o)            Generally little opportunity to ask the big questions, or question the principal assumptions about the faith.

p)            Treatment of issues as black or white, right or wrong, and therefore a failure to get to grips with real-world problems which we can come up against.

Relationship to the World

q)            An important part of the duty of a Christian is taking part in the 'evangelisation of the world'.

r)             The need for a readiness to respond to a call to 'service on the mission field' or 'full-time service as a minister'.

s)            Full-time service seen as 'better' than doing a secular job.

t)             Treating other faiths as being wrong and having little intrinsic value, and therefore a target for evangelism.

u)            Seemingly disconnected from the world of scientific enquiry, and resultant hypotheses which raise doubts or questions.

The late Terence Cooper