for conversion and social reform, expressed in revivals and voluntary
societies in the United States.
evangelicalism combined many impulses and movements
evangelicalism inherited its commitments to conversion, holy living, and
social reform from Puritanism, Pietism,
and Methodism. Its mission strategy of revival
preaching and itinerant ministry came from the Great
Awakening of the 1740s; this was further refined by Charles
Finney and others. Nineteenth-century evangelicalism took from the
Enlightenment a belief in the progress
and perfectibility of human beings and society. The basic paradigm of
evangelicalism was conversion to faith in Jesus Christ, followed by a
quest for holiness in one's individual life and in society. Evangelicalism
shunned hierarchy, liturgy, and formality. It used lay leadership, including
women and African-Americans. The movement pioneered practical ecumenism
through its "benevolent empire" of anti-slavery and mission societies,
Bible translators, tract distributors, and temperance advocates. Theologically,
many evangelicals stressed free will: each person could choose salvation
and pursue perfection. Everyone could interpret the Bible. Little attention
was paid to sacraments, creeds, confessions, and ministerial training.
Evangelicalism used revivalism as its main evangelism strategy and Roman
Catholics employed similar techniques in their "parish mission" campaigns.
The Methodists and the Baptists were probably the most thoroughly imbued
with evangelicalism and had the greatest number of African-American
churches. A few offshoots of evangelicalism, such as Mormonism,
developed into new religions.