The Crisis of Evangelical Christianity

The Crisis of Evangelical Christianity

by Keith C. Sewell


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In the broad context of Christianity as it developed over two millennia, and with special reference to the last three centuries, this discussion finds that Evangelicalism has repeatedly offered a reduced and distorted understanding of the faith. The evangelical outlook is much less scriptural than evangelicals generally assume. When it comes to appreciating the order of creation, our calling to develop integral Christian thinking and living, the religious significance of culture, and the coming of the kingdom, reductionist Evangelicalism struggles with its only rarely acknowledged deficiencies. As a result, we have all too often ended up with a Christianity shorn of its cosmic scope and wide cultural implications, and restricted to institutional church life and the cultivation of private spiritual experience. The consequences are frequently enervating and corrosive. Without disregarding what is important in the past, evangelicals are here challenged to take the Bible much more seriously, and thereby transcend the limitations of their habitual reductionism. Evangelicals are encouraged to embrace an integral and full-orbed understanding of Christian discipleship that will equip the faithful to address the deep and complex challenges of the twenty-first century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498238755
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 04/27/2016
Pages: 310
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Keith C. Sewell is Professor of History Emeritus at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa. He is author of Herbert Butterfield and the Interpretation of History (2005). He was born in England and lives in Australia.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xv

Part 1 Context

1 The Meaning of Evangelicalism 3

2 Whatever Happened to Christianity? 9

3 Whatever Happened to the Reformation? 26

4 Theology, Science and the Reformation 39

5 The English and Scottish Reformations 55

Part 2 Focus

6 The Roots and Character of Evangelicalism 77

7 Multiple Confusions and Challenges 95

8 Evangelicalism Wrestles with Liberalism 112

9 Neo-Evangelicalism and the Great Crusade 136

10 After the Great Crusade 151

11 Evangelical Distress and an Integral Alternative 178

12 Is Authentic Renewal Possible? 198

Glossary 227

Bibliography 233

Index of Persons 285

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Dr. Sewell leads us on a detailed journey through the history of Christianity to show how the contemporary church has come to be largely doctrinally shallow, spiritually stunted, and unable to address the pressing problems of our day. . . . He calls for a renewal of spiritual, intellectual, and practical Christianity in which evangelicalism would have the courage to critique itself, along with its traditions and doctrines, in the light of the authority of Scripture."

—Chris Gousmett, Private Theologian; Corporate Information Manager, Hutt City Council, New Zealand

"The Crisis of Evangelical Christianity is a rich mine of history as well as a minefield for most evangelicals. It provides the basis for an undergraduate or graduate course in the history of Evangelical Christianity, as it invites further investigation, debate, discussion, and possible 'reform.'"

—Mary Dengler, Professor of English, Codirector of the Kuyper Scholars Program, Dordt College

"Keith Sewell's appeal to fellow students in the school of Jesus Christ, who live amid the Anglosphere's evangelicalism, is this: 'Don't just sit there, do something!'" 

—Bruce C. Wearne, Social Theorist, Point Lonsdale, Australia

"Keith Sewell's book is a prophetic voice with excellent analysis addressing serious issues in modern Evangelical Christianity. His views will offend many, as prophets do, yet most Christians need to wrestle with his well-grounded historical, theological, hermeneutical, and philosophical arguments."

—Thomas R. Wolthuis, Director, Geneva Campus Ministry, University of Iowa

"Sewell's book is the fruit of extensive and careful research. He challenges an Anglo-Saxon evangelical self-image that unwittingly narrows the impact of its characteristic activity and conversion focus to piety, churchgoing, moralism, and philanthropy. Reform along Dispensational and Charismatic lines has not significantly refocused it. Sewell's critique is needed and will prove uncomfortable."

—David R. Hanson, Retired Consultant Surgeon to the General Infirmary, Leeds, UK

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