>Where Did "Evangelical" Come From?

>From Iain H. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000 (Cambridge: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 1-2.

“‘Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance and leap for joy.’ [Tyndale, Doctrinal Treatises (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1848), p. 8.]

So William Tydale wrote in 1525, and at the same period all who so thought became described as ‘gospellers’ or, less commonly, as ‘evangelicals’. Over two hundred years later it was the latter term that was to pass into more premanent usage at the time of the “Evangelical Revival’. That it did not do so earlier is largely due to the fact that all the churches of the Reformation were ‘of the gospel’ in their creeds and confessions. By the eighteenth century, however, while the profession of the national churches in England and Scotland remained orthodox there were many pulpits from which no gospel was heard and when the evangel was recovered a term was necessary to distinguish its preachers from others: they were the ‘evangelicals.

By the nineteenth century the Church of England especially was noted for its ‘evangelical party’ and its members, together with those who held to the same gospel priority in other Protestant denominations, became identified as adherents to ‘evangelicalism’. The Evangelical Alliance, founded in 1846, brought such men together on both sides of the Atlantic in a federation which had no pretensions to being a church organization. The unity was one of fellowship and belief, not of shared denominationl structure.

[emphasis added]


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