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  1. According to a Pew Research Center study in 2014, Baptists make up nearly 16 percent of the American adult population. In the Southern Baptist Convention alone, there are some 46,500 churches and some 15 million members among those churches. In 2016, there were about 280,000 baptisms reported in the Southern Baptist Convention. In the American Baptist Church USA network, there are some 5,000 congregations and about 1.3 million members. A 2015 Pew Research Center report said 36 percent of evangelical Protestants identify with Baptist denominations. In the Baptist World Alliance, the largest organization of Baptists in the world, about 48 million are part of the alliance, according to a 2016 report. christianity.com
  2. Aligning with Thomas Jefferson, early Baptists held strongly to a view that supported religious liberty. Facing some persecution for their own belief in believer’s baptism, Baptists endured fines, harassment and sometimes jail time. In Massachusetts 1645, for example, the colony outlawed Baptists, calling them “the troublers of churches in all places,” according to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In response to that persecution, Baptists later helped influence the First Amendment. The early church believed in separation in church and state so that religious liberty was available to all and all were free to practice as they saw fit. With the First Amendment, Baptists supported “free exercise of religion” and not a “national pastor.” christianity.com
  3. In response to Christ’s call to “make disciples of all nations,” many Baptists encourage missionary work and evangelism opportunities. Baptists say that millions of people around the world have not heard of Jesus and evangelism is the mission of sharing Christ’s message. Evangelism has a long history in the Baptist church. According to the American Baptist Churches USA, historians used books, tracts and other resources in evangelism as early as 1824. Former evangelist Billy Graham’s events have inspired waves of new evangelistic conferences and conventions, which draw in millions of people. Locally, Baptists encourage each other to share their faith openly and take the message of Christ to their neighbors, workplaces, schools and other day-to-day activities. Baptists believe in a “calling” to share the gospel and in many churches, Baptists are learning to adapt their approach to better deliver the message of Christ. christianity.com
  4. In the Baptist church, the Lord’s Supper, also known as communion, is a symbolic practicemeant to honor the death of Jesus. Communion is not necessary for salvation. The practice comes from Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. At the meal, unleavened bread and the wine were served. The bread symbolizes the purity of Christ and the wine (sometimes grape juice) symbolizes the blood of Christ that was shed for his people. The Lord’s Supper is meant as a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Unlike other denominations of Christianity, such as the Catholic church, the Lord’s Supper is not literally the blood and body of Christ. There is no set calendar for partaking in the Lord’s Supper among Baptist churches, but each time it is practiced, it is meant to be a time of devotion and prayer. In many churches, all are able to participate in the Lord’s Supper. christianity.com
  5. Often considered a major division in the Protestant church is Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Calvinism is named after John Calvin, a theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. The major tenant of Calvinism is predestination, where some people are predestined to be saved. That is, God decided the destiny of some with salvation by grace. Others are meant for damnation due to their original sin. In Arminianism, named after Jacobus Arminius, the teachings say that God has chosen us to bring salvation to all and people have the ability to make the decision for faith. Even within Calvinism and Arminianism in the Baptist church, there are differing beliefs and many conversationsabout it. The Southern Baptist Convention itself has held many conferences centering on the long-standing Protestant debate. christianity.com
  6. Since the origins of the church, Baptists have said the Bible is the only authority for Christian faith and practice. Baptists believe that the Bible is the only authority because it is divinely inspired or has a divine nature. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is an oft-cited example of why Baptists believe strongly in the Bible. The verses say, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and empowered men to record the truth about God and give directives on how to apply the Bible to the Christian life. Some Baptist churches may disagree on certain practices, but many say the Bible is their sole authority. christianity.com
  7. The Baptist church believes in Baptism only after a person has professed Christ as their Savior. The Baptism symbolizes the cleansing of sins. Some churches use a sprinkling of water as Baptism, but most practice full immersion, where the candidate is fully immersed in water. This symbolizes the disciples’ own baptism as stated in John 3. The practice also stems from Romans 6, which says Christians are “buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Baptism is not a requirement for salvation and many churches do not subscribe to infant baptism Instead, Baptism in the Baptist church is a public expression of faith. “While it is personal, it is not private,” an article from the Southern Baptist Conventions’ journal says. “Such an act of obedience actually then clarifies their testimony and opens the door for ministry in the church.” christianity.com
  8. In the United States, the largest group is made up of the Southern Baptist Convention. As of 2015, the group was made up of more than 15 million members. Southern Baptists who split with northern Baptists founded the Convention in 1845 in Georgia over the issue of slavery. Other affiliations include smaller conservative organizations (such as the American Baptist Churches USA, Baptist General Conference and the Baptist General Convention of Texas) of Baptist churches and the Independent Baptist churches that are not part of a hierarchical structure or governing authority. This group started in the late 19th and early 20th century and is made up of believers who wanted to adhere to a more conservative doctrine. There is a Baptist World Alliance, which includes some 200 Baptist organizations and conventions. The Southern Baptist Convention, however, left the Alliance in 2004 over the issues of homosexuality and women in the clergy. christianity.com
  9. In America, a former member of the Church of England, Roger Williams, separated from officials in the Massachusetts Bay Colony over his belief on church functions. In 1638, he founded the first Baptist church in America in uncolonized Rhode Island. Also in Rhode Island, Englishman John Clarke founded a Baptist church around the same time. The two men later received a charter from King Charles II guaranteeing religion freedom in Rhode Island. According to American Baptist Churches USA, by 1790 there were 35 Baptist associations in America and some 560 ministers. Estimates say there were some 750 churches and 60,000 Baptist in the states. Historians say that the Baptist belief in religious freedom was a significant influence on the forming of the First Amendment of the Constitution. christianity.com
  10. According to Bruce Gourley, who served as executive director of Baptist History & Heritage Society, there are four main opinions on how Baptists originated. The first is that Baptists grew from within the English Separatist movement, where in the 16th-18th centuries, Protestant Christians separated from the Church of England. This is the most accepted view and the earliest Baptist church is considered a 1609 church in Amsterdam. The second opinion holds that Baptists originated from English Separatism and was greatly influenced and formed out of Anabaptists, or Dutch Mennonites. The third and fourth opinions say that the Baptist church has existed in some form since Christ and John the Baptist. christianity.com
  11. In the United States, evangelicalism is an umbrella group of Protestant Christians who believe in the necessity of being born again, emphasize the importance of evangelism, and affirm traditional Protestant teachings on the authority and the historicity of the Bible. Nearly a quarter of the US population, evangelicals are diverse and drawn from a variety of denominational backgrounds, including Baptist, Mennonite, Methodist, Holiness, Pentecostal, Reformed and nondenominational churches. Evangelicalism has played an important role in shaping American religion and culture. The First Great Awakening of the 18th century marked the rise of evangelical religion in colonial America. As the revival spread throughout the Thirteen Colonies, evangelicalism united Americans around a common faith The Second Great Awakening of the 19th century led to what historian Martin Marty called the "Evangelical Empire", a period in which evangelicals dominated US cultural institutions, including schools and universities. Some evangelicals were strong advocates of reform, largely in the northern United States. They were involved in the temperance movement and supported the abolition of slavery in addition to working towards education and criminal justice reform. Many evangelical denominations split over slavery, with evangelicals in the southern United States establishing new branches that did not formally or openly call for abolition of slavery. (For example, the Southern Baptist Convention was founded over the issue of slaveholders serving as foreign missionaries.) By the end of the 19th century, the old evangelical consensus that had united American Protestantism no longer existed. Protestant churches became divided over new intellectual and theological ideas, such as Darwinian evolution and historical criticism of the Bible. Those who embraced these liberal ideas became known as modernists, while those who rejected them became known as fundamentalists. Fundamentalists defended the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and adopted a dispensationalist theological system for interpreting the Bible. As a result of the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of the 1920s and 1930s, fundamentalists lost control of the Mainline Protestant churches and separated themselves from non-fundamentalist churches and cultural institutions. After World War II, a new generation of conservative Protestants rejected the separatist stance of fundamentalism and began calling themselves evangelicals. Popular evangelist Billy Graham was at the forefront of reviving use of the term. During this time period, a number of evangelical institutions were established, including the National Association of Evangelicals, Christianity Today magazine and a number of educational institutions, such as Fuller Theological Seminary. As a reaction to the 1960s counterculture, many evangelicals became politically active and involved in the Christian right, which became an important voting bloc of the Republican Party. Observers such as Frances FitzGerald have noted that since 2005 the influence of the Christian right among evangelicals has been in decline. Though less visible, some evangelicals identify as Progressive evangelicals. wikipedia.org
  12. Christian views on alcohol are varied. Throughout the first 1,800 years of Church history, Christians generally consumed alcoholic beverages as a common part of everyday life and used "the fruit of the vine" in their central rite—the Eucharist or Lord's Supper. They held that both the Bible and Christian tradition taught that alcohol is a gift from God that makes life more joyous, but that over-indulgence leading to drunkenness is sinful or at least a vice. In the mid-19th century, some Protestant Christians moved from a position of allowing moderate use of alcohol (sometimes called "'moderationism") to either deciding that not imbibing was wisest in the present circumstances ("abstentionism") or prohibiting all ordinary consumption of alcohol because it was believed to be a sin ("prohibitionism"). Many Protestant churches, particularly Methodists, advocated abstentionism and were early leaders in the temperance movement of the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, all three positions exist in Christianity, but the historic position remains the most common worldwide, due to the adherence by the largest bodies of Christians, such as Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Alcohol in the Bible Alcoholic beverages appear in the Bible, both in usage and in poetic expression. The Bible is ambivalent towards alcohol, considering it both a blessing from God that brings merriment and a potential danger that can be unwisely and sinfully abused. Christian views on alcohol come from what the Bible says about it, along with Jewish and Christian traditions. The biblical languages have several words for alcoholic beverages, and though prohibitionists and some abstentionists dissent, there is a broad consensus that the words did ordinarily refer to intoxicating drinks. The commonness and centrality of wine in daily life in biblical times is apparent from its many positive and negative metaphorical uses throughout the Bible. Positively, for example, wine is used as a symbol of abundance, and of physical blessing. Negatively, wine is personified as a mocker and beer a brawler, and drinking a cup of strong wine to the dregs and getting drunk are sometimes presented as a symbol of God's judgment and wrath. The Bible also speaks of wine in general terms as a bringer and concomitant of joy, particularly in the context of nourishment and feasting. Wine was commonly drunk at meals, and the Old Testament prescribed it for use in sacrificial rituals and festal celebrations. The Gospel of John recorded the first miracle of Jesus: making copious amounts of wine at the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus instituted the ritual of the Eucharist at the Last Supper during a Passover celebration, he says that the "fruit of the vine" is a "New Covenant in [his] blood," though Christians have differed on the implications of this statement (see Eucharistic theologies contrasted). Alcohol was also used for medicinal purposes in biblical times, and it appears in that context in several passages—as an oral anesthetic, a topical cleanser and soother, and a digestive aid. Kings and priests in the Old Testament were forbidden to partake of wine at various times. John the Baptist was a Nazirite from birth. Nazirite vows excluded not only wine, but also vinegar, grapes, and raisins. (Jesus evidently did not take such a vow during the three years of ministry depicted in the gospels, but in fact was even accused by the Pharisees of eating and drinking with sinners. St. Paul further instructs Christians regarding their duty toward immature Christians: "It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall." Jewish priests cannot bless a congregation after consuming alcohol. Virtually all Christian traditions hold that the Bible condemns ordinary drunkenness in many passages, and Easton's Bible Dictionary says, "The sin of drunkenness ... must have been not uncommon in the olden times, for it is mentioned either metaphorically or literally more than seventy times in the Bible." Additionally, the consequences of the drunkenness of Noah and Lot "were intended to serve as examples of the dangers and repulsiveness of intemperance." St. Paul later chides the Corinthians for becoming drunk on wine served at their attempted celebrations of the Eucharist. wikipedia.org
  13. Evangelicals dissatisfied with the movement's conservative mainstream have been variously described as progressive evangelicals, post-conservative evangelicals, Open Evangelicals and post-evangelicals. Progressive evangelicals, also known as the evangelical left, share theological or social views with other progressive Christians while also identifying with evangelicalism. Progressive evangelicals commonly advocate for women's equality, pacifism and social justice. As described by Baptist theologian Roger E. Olson, post-conservative evangelicalism is a theological school of thought that adheres to the four marks of evangelicalism, while being less rigid and more inclusive of other Christians. According to Olson, post-conservatives believe that doctrinal truth is secondary to spiritual experience shaped by Scripture. Post-conservative evangelicals seek greater dialogue with other Christian traditions and support the development of a multicultural evangelical theology that incorporates the voices of women, racial minorities, and Christians in the developing world. Some post-conservative evangelicals also support open theism and the possibility of near universal salvation. The term "Open Evangelical" refers to a particular Christian school of thought or churchmanship, primarily in Great Britain (especially in the Church of England). Open evangelicals describe their position as combining a traditional evangelical emphasis on the nature of scriptural authority, the teaching of the ecumenical creeds and other traditional doctrinal teachings, with an approach towards culture and other theological points-of-view which tends to be more inclusive than that taken by other evangelicals. Some open evangelicals aim to take a middle position between conservative and charismatic evangelicals, while others would combine conservative theological emphases with more liberal social positions. British author Dave Tomlinson coined the phrase post-evangelical to describe a movement comprising various trends of dissatisfaction among evangelicals. Others use the term with comparable intent, often to distinguish evangelicals in the so-called emerging church movement from post-evangelicals and anti-evangelicals. Tomlinson argues that "linguistically, the distinction [between evangelical and post-evangelical] resembles the one that sociologists make between the modern and postmodern eras". wikipedia.org
  14. Fundamentalism regards biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth of Jesus, penal substitutionary atonement, the literal resurrection of Christ, and the Second Coming of Christ as fundamental Christian doctrines. Fundamentalism arose among evangelicals in the 1920s to combat modernist or liberal theology in mainline Protestant churches. Failing to reform the mainline churches, fundamentalists separated from them and established their own churches, refusing to participate in ecumenical organizations such as the National Council of Churches (founded in 1950). They also made separatism (rigid separation from non-fundamentalist churches and their culture) a true test of faith. According to historian George Marsden, most fundamentalists are Baptists and dispensationalist. wikipedia.org
  15. One influential definition of evangelicalism has been proposed by historian David Bebbington. Bebbington notes four distinctive aspects of evangelical faith: conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, noting, "Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism." Conversionism, or belief in the necessity of being "born again", has been a constant theme of evangelicalism since its beginnings. To evangelicals, the central message of the gospel is justification by faith in Christ and repentance, or turning away, from sin. Conversion differentiates the Christian from the non-Christian, and the change in life it leads to is marked by both a rejection of sin and a corresponding personal holiness of life. A conversion experience can be emotional, including grief and sorrow for sin followed by great relief at receiving forgiveness. The stress on conversion differentiates evangelicalism from other forms of Protestantism by the associated belief that an assurance of salvation will accompany conversion. Among evangelicals, individuals have testified to both sudden and gradual conversions. Biblicism is reverence for the Bible and high regard for biblical authority. All evangelicals believe in biblical inspiration, though they disagree over how this inspiration should be defined. Many evangelicals believe in biblical inerrancy, while other evangelicals believe in biblical infallibility. Crucicentrism is the centrality that evangelicals give to the Atonement, the saving death and the resurrection of Jesus, that offers forgiveness of sins and new life. This is understood most commonly in terms of a substitutionary atonement, in which Christ died as a substitute for sinful humanity by taking on himself the guilt and punishment for sin. Activism describes the tendency toward active expression and sharing of the gospel in diverse ways that include preaching and social action. This aspect of evangelicalism continues to be seen today in the proliferation of evangelical voluntary religious groups and parachurch organizations. Many evangelical traditions adhere to the doctrine of the believers' Church, which teaches that one becomes a member of the Church by the new birth and profession of faith. This originated in the Radical Reformation with Anabaptists but is held by denominations that practice believer's baptism. Some evangelicals, such as those in the Anglican and Reformed traditions, practice infant baptism as one's initiation into the visible church, while also stressing the necessity of personal conversion later in life for salvation. wikipedia.org
  16. Evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has long had a presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries. Its origins are usually traced to 1738, with various theological streams contributing to its foundation, including English Methodism, the Moravian Church (in particular its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut), and German Lutheran Pietism. Preeminently, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening. Today, evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch. Among leaders and major figures of the evangelical Protestant movement were John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Harold Ockenga, John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The movement gained great momentum during the 18th and 19th centuries with the Great Awakenings in Great Britain and the United States. In 2016, there were an estimated 619 million evangelicals in the world, meaning that one in four Christians would be classified as evangelical. The United States has the largest concentration of evangelicals in the world. American evangelicals are a quarter of the nation's population and its single largest religious group. The main movements are Baptist churches, Pentecostalism, charismatic Evangelicalism, neo-charismatic Evangelicalism and nondenominational Evangelicalism. wikipedia.org
  17. Mark Noll Why are mainline Protestant churches going along at a sort of steady pace and even declining, and evangelical churches are definitely seeing an increase? The churches that are known as evangelical today are descended from the mainline Protestant churches of the 19th century. When a distinction is made between evangelical and mainline churches, it's not a hard and fast distinction. There are many, many evangelical mainline Protestants. But the mainline churches are traditional. They are less entrepreneurial, less flexible in relationship to cultural [issues], and have, for reasons of belief and practice and organization, not fared nearly as well in the postwar world as have more self-consciously, self-identified evangelical churches. Richard Cizik … When you speak of mainline Protestants and what their beliefs are about the Bible, is it basically the difference between believing that the Bible is an interesting set of stories, versus a set of laws, a set of truth? … That may be a layman's definition. But I think there's one way to understand the evangelical view of the Bible. It is viewed as the objective authoritative word of God, as opposed to the mainline Protestant view called neo-orthodoxy which holds, you see, that the Bible becomes the word of God in a kind of existential encounter with it. So that's the distinction. It doesn't just become the word of God when you have an experience with God or an experience with the Word. It is objectively, authoritatively the word of God. That's what distinguishes evangelicals from, say, mainline Protestants. … Let's talk about the old churches versus the new. People have wondered, why are conservative churches growing? The answer is, they offer moral certitudes in a world without any certainties, it seems. They offer moral absolutes to people who are looking for moral guidance, and a way to live in a crazy, mixed up world. Then they combine it with contemporary music and worship. It's appealing, and they're growing. There's a mega-church formed every two weeks in America. Meanwhile, mainline Protestantism, sometimes called the sidelines, is dying. pbs.org
  18. Evangelicals V. Mainline Protestants By John Green The easiest way to explain the differences between evangelicals and mainline Protestants is to start with evangelicals, because evangelicals have a clearer set of beliefs that distinguish them than mainline Protestants do. The term evangelical comes from the word "evangel" which is a word form in Greek from the New Testament that refers to the good news of Jesus Christ -- that Jesus came to save humanity -- and evangelicals have a particular take on the good news. That makes them distinctive from other Christians. It could be summarized, I think, with four cardinal beliefs that evangelicals tend to hold, at least officially. One belief is that the Bible is inerrant. It was without error in all of its claims about the nature of the world and the nature of God. A second belief is that the only way to salvation is through belief in Jesus Christ. A third belief, and one that is most well known, is the idea that individuals must accept salvation for themselves. They must become converted. Sometimes that's referred to as a born-again experience, sometimes a little different language. Then the fourth cardinal belief of evangelicals is the need to proselytize, or in their case, to spread the evangel, to evangelize. Now different members of the evangelical community have slightly different takes on those four cardinal beliefs. But what distinguishes the evangelicals from other Protestants and other Christians is these four central beliefs that set them apart. Mainline Protestants have a different perspective. They have a more modernist theology. So, for instance, they would read the Bible, not as the inerrant word of God, but as a historical document, which has God's word in it and a lot of very important truths, but that needs to be interpreted in every age by individuals of that time and that place. Mainline Protestants tend to also believe that Jesus is the way to salvation. But many mainline Protestants would believe that perhaps there are other ways to salvation as well. People in other religious traditions, even outside of Christianity, may have access to God's grace and to salvation as well, on their own terms, and through their own means. Mainline Protestants are much less concerned with personal conversion. Although they do talk about spiritual transformation, they'll often discuss a spiritual journey from one's youth to old age, leading on into eternity. So there is a sense of transformation, but there isn't that emphasis on conversion -- on that one moment or series of moments in which one's life is dramatically changed. Finally, mainline Protestants are somewhat less concerned with proselytizing than evangelicals. Certainly proselytizing is something they believe in. They believe in sharing their beliefs with others, but not for the purposes of conversion necessarily. The idea of spreading the word in the mainline tradition is much broader than simply preaching the good news. It also involves economic development. It involves personal assistance, charity, a whole number of other activities. But on many points, evangelicals and mainliners are sometimes hard to tell apart, because there are people in the evangelical tradition who are somewhat more modernist and tend towards the mainline. We often refer to them as liberal evangelicals. But then there are also people in the mainline churches who have a more traditional, or conservative perspective. They're sometimes referred to as evangelical mainline Protestants. So this is a little bit confusing here, because the two communities are not as completely distinct as some might argue. But there are clear distinctions at the core of each tradition, which allows us to recognize them as different approaches to Protestantism. pbs.org
  19. The evangelical movement originated within Protestantism and is rooted in the concept of salvation through atonement, or ultimately, an individual's faith. Evangelical Christians believe in being "born again" and in the Bible as God's words. The Evangelical movement has evolved over centuries. Here are five events in its history: 1. A growing belief in evolutionary theory and what A Study of Denominations calls "higher criticism" have threatened to weaken the belief in the Biblical account of creation and history. This progressive movement began in the late 1800s and spawned fundamentalism, an offshoot of "mainline" Evangelicalism, in the early 1900s. 2. For nearly 20 years from 1919-37, internal battles were waged in northern states over control of the Northern Baptist and the Northern Presbyterian denominations. Though evangelical fundamentalists wanted unity across the factions, they fought for the inclusion of statements relating to their core evangelical convictions, namely: The word of God as truth, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and his bodily resurrection, according to the Gospel Coalition. 3. The National Association of Evangelicals was formed in 1942 as a response to pastor Harold John Ockenga's call for "neo-evangelicalism." Broad in scope, the group initially included Pentecostal and Holiness groups and independent ministries in addition to evangelical denominationalists, according to the NAE website. 4. The magazine Christianity Today was founded in 1956 by Evangelical legend Billy Graham, who tapped Carl F.H. Henry as its first editor-in-chief. Henry was on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals. The magazine's intent was to champion evangelical Christianity and oppose the more liberal Christian Century. Henry also authored several books, including the six-volume set titled "God, Revelation, and Authority," finished in 1983. 5. Graham's impact on modern evangelicalism can't be overstated. The now 96-year-old American evangelical Christian is a Southern Baptist minister who appealed to middle-class, moderately conservative Protestants. He presided over large gatherings, and his sermons were broadcast on radio and television. newsmax.com
  20. Evangelicalism is a Protestant movement embraced within a variety of Christian denominations, based on the idea that religious salvation can be achieved through adherence to the word of God as delivered through the Bible. While they may go by different denominational names, evangelical Christians are unified as a group and set apart from other Christians by certain core beliefs. Different from other denominations, the top five identifying beliefs of evangelical Christians are: 1. They point to a specific, personal conversion experience in which they are "born again" or "saved." According to PrayerFoundation.com, "individuals (above an age of accountability) must personally trust in Jesus Christ for salvation." 2. Evangelical Christians believe in the Bible as God's inspired Word to humankind, perfect in truth in the original text. It is the "final authority in all matters of doctrine and faith — above all human authority," according to EvangelicalBeliefs.com. 3. Evangelicals believe the work of Jesus on the cross, through his death and resurrection, is the only source of salvation and forgiveness of sins. PrayerFoundation.com makes it clear that salvation is through faith alone. People can do nothing to earn their way to heaven. Instead, as EvangelicalBeliefs.com points out, believers do "good works in grateful response to our pardon, not to cause it." 4. Evangelical Christians are strongly motivated to share the gospel either one-on-one or through organized missions. Emphasis is placed on the Great Commission's call to share with the world the Christian message of salvation through Christ, and to "be publicly baptized as a confession of faith," according to PrayerFoundation.com. 5. Most, though not all, evangelicals believe there will be a rapture in the end times where the church will be "caught up with Christ before the Great Tribulation, leaving nonbelievers behind to suffer on Earth," states the Pew Research Center. This idea has gained attention through the "Left Behind" book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and the related movies. So with their faith in the Bible and Jesus, evangelical Christians may seem similar to other Christian denominations, even bearing some of the same names. But their unique beliefs and interpretations of Christianity make them a distinct worldwide movement, emphasizing the "born again" experience, the infallibility of the Bible, salvation by faith in Jesus alone, the need to evangelize or spread their message, and the rapture of the church in the end times. newsmax.com
  21. Criticism of Christianity has a long history stretching back to the initial formation of the religion during the Roman Empire. Critics have challenged Christian beliefs and teachings as well as Christian actions, from the Crusades to modern terrorism. The intellectual arguments against Christianity include the suppositions that it is a faith of violence, corruption, superstition, polytheism, and bigotry. In the early years of Christianity, the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry emerged as one of the major critics with his book Against the Christians. Porphyry argued that Christianity was based on false prophecies that had not yet materialized. Following the adoption of Christianity under the Roman Empire, dissenting religious voices were gradually suppressed by both governments and ecclesiastical authorities. A millennium later, the Protestant Reformation led to a fundamental split in European Christianity and rekindled critical voices about the Christian faith, both internally and externally. With the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, Christianity was criticized by major thinkers and philosophers, such as Voltaire, David Hume, Thomas Paine, and the Baron d'Holbach. The central theme of these critiques sought to negate the historical accuracy of the Christian Bible and focused on the perceived corruption of Christian religious authorities. Other thinkers, like Immanuel Kant, launched systematic and comprehensive critiques of Christian theology by attempting to refute arguments for theism. In modern times, Christianity has faced substantial criticism from a wide array of political movements and ideologies. In the late eighteenth century, the French Revolution saw a number of politicians and philosophers criticizing traditional Christian doctrines, precipitating a wave of secularism in which hundreds of churches were closed down and thousands of priests were deported. Following the French Revolution, prominent philosophers of liberalism and communism, such as John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx, criticized Christian doctrine on the grounds that it was conservative and anti-democratic. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that Christianity fostered a kind of slave morality that suppressed the desires contained in the human will. The Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, and several other modern revolutionary movements have also led to the criticism of Christian ideas. The formal response of Christians to such criticisms is described as Christian apologetics. Philosophers like Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas have been some of the most prominent defenders of the Christian religion since its foundation. wikipedia.org
  22. Intelligent design A number of notable proponents of theistic evolution, including Kenneth R. Miller, John Haught, George Coyne, Simon Conway Morris, Denis Alexander, Ard Louis, Darrel Falk, Alister McGrath, Francisco J. Ayala, and Francis Collins are critics of intelligent design. Young Earth creationism Young Earth creationists including Ken Ham criticise theistic evolution on theological grounds, finding it hard to reconcile the nature of a loving God with the process of evolution, in particular, the existence of death and suffering before the Fall of Man. They consider that it undermines central biblical teachings by regarding the creation account as a myth, a parable, or an allegory, instead of treating it as historical. They also fear that a capitulation to what they call "atheistic" naturalism will confine God to the gaps in scientific explanations, undermining biblical doctrines, such as God's incarnation through Christ. wikipedia.org
  23. 19th-century 'theistic evolution' The American botanist Asa Gray used the name "theistic evolution" in a now-obsolete sense for his point of view, presented in his 1876 book Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism. He argued that the deity supplies beneficial mutations to guide evolution. St George Jackson Mivart argued instead in his 1871 On the Genesis of Species that the deity, equipped with foreknowledge, sets the direction of evolution (orthogenesis) by specifying the laws that govern it, and leaves species to evolve according to the conditions they experience as time goes by. The Duke of Argyll set out similar views in his 1867 book The Reign of Law. The historian Edward J. Larson stated that the theory failed as an explanation in the minds of biologists from the late 19th century onwards as it broke the rules of methodological naturalism which they had grown to expect. Non-theistic evolution The major criticism of theistic evolution by non-theistic evolutionists focuses on its essential belief in a supernatural creator. These critics argue that by the application of Occam's razor, sufficient explanation of the phenomena of evolution is provided by natural processes (in particular, natural selection), and the intervention or direction of a supernatural entity is not required. The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins considers theistic evolution a superfluous attempt to "smuggle God in by the back door". wikipedia.org
  24. Hominization, in both science and religion, involves the process or the purpose of becoming human. The process and means by which hominization occurs is a key problem in theistic evolutionary thought, at least for the Abrahamic religions, which hold as a core belief that animals do not have immortal souls but that humans do. Many versions of theistic evolution insist on a special creation consisting of at least the addition of a soul just for the human species. Scientific accounts of the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and subsequent evolution of pre-human life forms may not cause any difficulty but the need to reconcile religious and scientific views of hominization and to account for the addition of a soul to humans remains a problem. Theistic evolution typically postulates a point at which a population of hominids who had (or may have) evolved by a process of natural evolution acquired souls and thus (with their descendants) became fully human in theological terms. This group might be restricted to Adam and Eve, or indeed to Mitochondrial Eve, although versions of the theory allow for larger populations. The point at which such an event occurred should essentially be the same as in paleoanthropology and archeology, but theological discussion of the matter tends to concentrate on the theoretical. The term "special transformism" is sometimes used to refer to theories that there was a divine intervention of some sort, achieving hominization. Several 19th-century theologians and evolutionists attempted specific solutions, including the Catholics John Augustine Zahm and St. George Jackson Mivart, but tended to come under attack from both the theological and biological camps. and 20th-century thinking tended to avoid proposing precise mechanisms. wikipedia.org
  25. Creationism is the religious belief that nature, and aspects such as the universe, Earth, life, and humans, originated with supernatural acts of divine creation. In its broadest sense, creationism includes a continuum of religious views, which vary in their acceptance or rejection of scientific explanations such as evolution that describe the origin and development of natural phenomena. The term creationism most often refers to belief in special creation; the claim that the universe and lifeforms were created as they exist today by divine action, and that the only true explanations are those which are compatible with a Christian fundamentalist literal interpretation of the creation myths found in the Bible's Genesis creation narrative. Since the 1970s, the commonest form of this has been young Earth creationism which posits special creation of the universe and lifeforms within the last 10,000 years on the basis of Flood geology, and promotes pseudoscientific creation science. From the 18th century onwards, old Earth creationism accepted geological time harmonized with Genesis through gap or day-age theory, while supporting anti-evolution. Modern old-Earth creationists support progressive creationism and continue to reject evolutionary explanations. Following political controversy, creation science was reformulated as intelligent design and neo-creationism. Mainline Protestants and the Catholic Church reconcile modern science with their faith in Creation through forms of theistic evolution which hold that God purposefully created through the laws of nature, and accept evolution. Some groups call their belief evolutionary creationism. Less prominently, there are also members of the Islamic and Hindu faiths who are creationists. Use of the term "creationist" in this context dates back to Charles Darwin's unpublished 1842 sketch draft for what became On the Origin of Species, and he used the term later in letters to colleagues. Asa Gray published a 1873 article in The Nation saying a "special creationist" maintaining that species "were supernaturally originated just as they are, by the very terms of his doctrine places them out of the reach of scientific explanation." wikipedia.org
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