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Book Review: The Global Diffusion of Evangelism

by Suleman

“The Global Diffusion of Evangelism” is a powerful book well researched and written by Brian Stanley. In the 21st century the book looks into the spread of evangelism. Various authors wrote about it evangelism, but none of them has studied the issues of evangelism as Stanly. The history of evangelism is one that has a global perspective; it is one that can be told of in different dimensions. One fact stands out: Evangelism has spread to almost every part of the world, thanks to missionaries and evangelical authors (Stanley 43). The author of the book carried out extensive research whose aim was to explain Christianity’s phenomenal growth in the 21st century. A modern Christianity form has arisen from the 18th century. In Europe, particularly in England, there was the Methodist revival. Then in North America there was the big Pentecostal enthusiasm. Christianity has now spread all over the globe, beginning with England and North America in small quantities (Stanley 55).

The author assigns the growth to the persistent efforts of early missionaries in Asia, Africa and Latin America who spread evangelism. Many people are uncertain about the history of Evangelism. The writers look extensively into the promotion of evangelism and its causes. Stanley points out that many scholars accuse evangelicalism of being scientifically simplistic. Evangelists have been attempting in the last five decades to make more people aware of the reasons behind evangelism’s development (Stanley 43). The author has therefore been acknowledged and even awarded. Stanley uses other people’s works and incorporates them into his career. He makes his observation as precise as possible in this way. In this course, evangelical writers J.I. will be included. Francis Schaeffer, Packer, F.F. Bruce, Kwame Bediako and Byang H. Kato (stanley 24). In the last few decades, evangelicals who are non-West have risen enormously. As a result of education and liberalism, the evangelical movements have risen. Today’s culture is more secular and holds various views on evangelism. Maybe this explains Christianity’s growth and evangelical work.

Book Review: The Global Diffusion of Evangelism

New worship forms have been developed by non-western evangelicals. For example, the Lausanne Convention specified the mission of evangelicalism to include evangelism and social action. The convention’s non-white members have contributed to the amendments discussed by the author. A product of Enlightenment, Stanley only ponders about the future of evangelicalism in the post-modern world. He considers the post-evangelicals, such as the ones that emerged from church movements in Britain. The apostolic churches seem to have an entirely new dimension to Christianity (Stanley 72). They have different interpretations of the bible, too. He looks into the works of great scholars such as Wright who reinterpreted the New Testament and Paul. They aimed to emphasize the transformative work of God in the contemporary world. Therefore, the authors contend, growth in education has a significant impact in the transformation. Scholars understand the word of God differently, or they have different interpretations. The founders of evangelicalism will perhaps be surprised by the significant changes in Christianity today. There is what the authors define as “the Majority World”. The Prosperity Gospel and Pentecostalism have grown alongside the Majority world. As a result, evangelicalism has moved in new directions. What is more, it has taken a new approach that would be unrecognizable to the founders (Stanley 79).

Evangelism has been globally diffused. This diffusion makes evangelicalism to cease to fit together as a unique movement that can be defined. The twisted view of the movement touches the lives of millions of people across the world. For instance, there are different and successful fragments of neo-Pentecostalism and modern worship. There are different perspectives on prayer. There are the praise songs and biblical translations adapted from the enlightenment. Evangelical writers such as Lesslie Newbigin and C.S. Lewis do not provide solutions to the author’s concerns. He wants the readers to ponder these issues. Evangelical Christianity is now more diverse in terms of cultural orientation and geographical distributions. There is more emphasis on the theological perspective than it was, say, some decades back (Stanley 98).

The diversity has brought about changes and different interpretations of the bible, worship and practices. These have proved problematic. The actual content of the bible has also been interpreted differently; the author agrees. There is a general call to people to repent and turn to Christ before the supposed end of the world. Many churches preach these messages—the messages from the bulk of work or lives of the Pentecostals. The author points out the fact that evangelicalism is at odds with Christendom. Most institutions take the form of a legal union between the state and the church, such as has been witnessed in the United Kingdom. The United States, for instance, includes in the constitution the boundaries between government and the church (Stanley 67). The Protestants insisted that the state recognizes the church. The authors offer an authoritative survey on why evangelicalism spread so fast, especially after the Second World War. Movements of missions, revival and evangelism, have been on the rise.

Theological stability and coherence are factors that are attributed to the growth of evangelical movements. As more and more people consider it professional to learn the word of God, they are moving into schools of theology. These schools have a liberal view of the bible and Christianity. Different cultures want to integrate their cultural perspectives as well. It is a change that has transcended geographical boundaries. Initially considered a western affair, evangelicalism has grown to include Africans, Latinos and other non-whites. The age of enlightenment, which began in the mid-twentieth century, also seems to have a played a role in the expansion as explained by the author Stanley 101). Different schools of thoughts emerged. As the scholars and evangelicals looked at the issue, they contended that all these views could be integrated into the mission by being more liberal. Most evangelists travel the world easily through air transport (Stanley 113). Evangelicals from North America or Britain-where the evangelicalism originated, can now copy trends that originated from the West. Stanley looks at the contributions that evangelical scholars have made. Special note is made on Scholars who teach in British schools. Scholars such as Francis Schaeffer and Carl Henry are discussed in the book. They made fruitful attempts for people and other evangelicals to understand the fundamentalism of evangelicalism.

The author takes a particular interest in the famous Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974. Here, the attendants agreed on a compromise and interpretation of evangelicalism and its role in the 21st century. The author appears to appreciate the works of Billy Graham among other theological voices such as Renee Padilla and Samuel Escobar. The author notes the partnerships between western and non-western church leaders and attributes evangelism’s growth to such works. The movements’ vitality is strengthened by renewed worship life and religious practices such talking in tongues, miracles, and healings. Through such beliefs and the need to lead “apostolic life”, the author illustrates why evangelicalism’s growth was so tremendous. The development of evangelicalism can also be attributed to the fact that various means of transportation such as water and air made it possible for evangelical enthusiasts to reach different destinations (Stanley 91) quickly. This coupled with the theological schools made it easier for the people from different cultures and geographical backgrounds to appreciate diversity in their religious beliefs.

Starting from the mid-twentieth century, conservative evangelicals’ clique took intellectual commitments to biblical and theological studies. Radical movements led to rapid growth of liberal congregations. Modern communications, Church Growth Theory and Anglophone education contributed to Pentecostalism’s development as pointed out by Brian Stanley. The different strands included conservative evangelicals, evangelicals and fundamentalists. The authors attribute the change to the “new evangelism” in the US, Billy Graham’s strategy that included generous cooperation and magazine Christianity today. In the UK, the leadership of Stott, the Church of England Newspaper, Evangelical England congresses, and the Christian Brethren influences, notably FF Bruce, accelerated the growth (Stanley 119). The international revival of ministry of Billy Graham that included missionary activities in many parts of the world led to evangelism development.

Stanley points out accurately that evangelical biblical scholars have had a significant influence on the growth of evangelism. Expository preaching is encouraged in many ways as were encouraged by Stott and Lloyd-Jones. The movement saw different faiths defended. The author notes that Charismatic and the new Pentecostal movements were inspired by theology scholars such as Graham and Stott. The concern for gifts, spiritual healing, revival and free worship in all parts of the world, led to the spread of evangelism in Asia, South America and Africa. The author discusses how issues of Gender, Hermeneutics and sexual Ethics contributed to growth of evangelism in the 21st century (Stanley 87). The debate on interpretation of the bible is discussed. The author points out the Holy Spirit’s role, today’s women in church, leadership and moral issues such homosexuality. These are some of the current complex problems that the author discusses.

He raises issues of global diffusions. Geographical diffusion has been international. Have there been doctrinal diffusions that render the theological definition incapable or unstable? He reminds readers that such assertions originated from the 1950s. More catholic traditions attracted a couple of evangelicals. Others have adopted the phrase “post-evangelical”. The author warns that any assessments on the topic should not focus on academic theological arguments. Instead, the evidence of church life and spirituality should be discussed. Overall, this book offers an insight into the growth of evangelism. It points out factors such as Enlightenment age, improved transportation, renewed interest in theology and great works of Christian scholars that contributed to the phenomenal growth.

Work Cited
  • Stanley, Brian. The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott. , 2013.

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