From here to there is a retrospective of church history. It’s what we call an archaeology of the present. We will begin in the present moment and move backwards to examine all the people, movements, philosophies and events that led to the current state of affairs in the evangelical church. As we take a critical look backwards we’ll be more able to understand the present. In this first module, we’re asking ourselves “How did we become who we are as evangelicals and what features and people and events and theological emphases have led to who we are?” We’ll go back and examine the first and second great awakenings and look at the massive impact that revivalism has had on the evangelical church. Will also take a critical look at the influence of American social-political perspective on American religion. When we put all of these features together will have a better answer to the question “What is an evangelical and how did we get to where we are theologically?” When I asked what is an evangelical most people can’t answer despite the fact they identify as an evangelical. From here to there is an attempt to answer that question objectively and to discover the influences that led to evangelicalism.
Instructor: Byron Yawn
In session one we will lay out our objectives and aims for the course. We’ll also frame the course with a definition of evangelicalism. Finding a consistent definition for evangelicalism is notoriously difficult given the nature of the movement
In session two we will begin to trace the historic development of evangelicalism from its earliest influences up unto the Great Revivals of the eighteenth century. We will also look at the permanent impact “revivalism” has had on the American Church.
In session three we will look at the relationship between the early republic and the rise of evangelicalism. We will hope to prove the innumerable ways “American” has been infused into the “Christian” of evangelicalism; at some points, the two are indistinguishable from one another.
We will examine the larger impact of our evangelical ethos on the American church. We’ll think through the broad characteristics of our religious practice, trace their origins and demonstrate the existence in the present moment.
We will finish our examination of the impact of evangelical theology on the modern American church (marketing, individualism, hyper-spirituality) and bring our course to a close with series of present observations and predictions for the future.