Evangelical Theology

Authored by: Roger E. Olson

The Routledge Companion to Modern Christian Thought

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782173
eBook ISBN: 9780203387856
Adobe ISBN: 9781136677922


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“Evangelical” has many uses and therefore many meanings. The oldest use was to describe visionaries of the Catholic faith with an especially profound piety. Thus, for example, Francis of Assisi was evangelical in the Middle Ages. That use has become, for the most part, otiose. A second use is to describe Protestant, as opposed to Catholic, Christianity, beginning especially with Martin Luther (1483–1546). Throughout the Continent “Evangelische” simply designates Protestant. Depending on geography and social context, it may refer to either Lutheran or Reformed or both. Ironically, it is seldom applied to the heirs of the Radical Reformation. The Swiss Brethren exuded an evangelical spirit not unlike the modern use of the label.

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