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About Evangelicals

Common beliefs shared among many
fundamentalist & other evangelical Christians

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Most evangelicals generally believe in the main historical doctrines of the Christian church:

  1. Inspiration: The authors of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit as they wrote.
  2. Inerrancy: The books of the Bible, in their original autograph copy, were inerrant (without error).
  3. Virgin birth: Miriam, the mother of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) was a virgin when she conceived.
  4. Atonement: Through Jesus' death, the relationship between God and Man (which had been damaged by Adam and Eve's sin) can been restored.
  5. Resurrection: After Jesus' death and burial, he arose again, bodily.
  6. Second coming: that Jesus' return to earth is imminent.
  7. Incarnation: God appeared on earth in human form, as Jesus.Trinity: that God is in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  8. Justification: An act of God in which any person who accepts that they have sinned and who believes in the atonement of Christ is forgiven of their sins and brought into a close relationship with God.
  9. Regeneration of the spirit: A new believer undergoes a spiritual rebirth.
  10. Trinity: God exists as a Trinity, consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: three persons within a single entity.
  11. Satan is a created being, a living entity, who was once an angel but is now an all-evil tormentor of humanity.
  12. Salvation is a gift of God, attained by repentance and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Some Evangelicals do not include the need for repentance as a first step, because it requires an effort --  a good work -- on the part of the Christian.
  13. Heaven exists as a place of beauty, peace and eternal reward where saved Christians will enjoy the presence of God forever.
  14. Hell exists as a place never-ending torture without mercy or any hope of cessation for the unsaved.

Of these beliefs, three are currently in a state of flux. The eventual outcome is unclear:

  • Hell: In previous generations, pastors would often terrify congregations with "Fire and brimstone" sermons describing the unbearable heat, thirst, flogging, and darkness of Hell. Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" is perhaps the most famous. Such sermons have now become quite rare. Supporters of human rights believe that torturing prisoners, and imprisoning people for thought crimes (i.e. believing in the wrong God) are profoundly immoral practices on earth. Many Evangelicals now find these practices incompatible with a loving God. In recent decades, Hell is more frequently described in Evangelical circles as a place where one is isolated from God; torture is downplayed.
  • Inerrancy: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a widespread debate raged among Evangelical theologians over biblical inerrancy. It was never resolved. "The controversy quickly became an impasse and the impasse quickly became unspoken. As a result, evangelical theologians have, for the past twenty years, held widely divergent views of Scripture's authority with no apparent hope of coming to a common understanding." 1
  • Salvation: As described above, Evangelicals believe that those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior will attain Heaven after death. Those who have rejected Jesus and the Gospel will go to Hell. In past decades, increasing attention has been paid to those who have not had the opportunity to learn of Jesus, the Gospel message or Christianity. Some Evangelicals feel that relegating to Hell those who have never had the opportunity to accept Jesus is incompatible with a just, kind, and loving God. Others hold to the historical Christian belief that everyone who has not trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior will spend eternity in Hell; this includes both those who have consciously rejected Jesus, and those who have never heard of him.

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References used:

  1. John Perry, "Dissolving the Inerrancy Debate: How Modern Philosophy Shaped the Evangelical View of Scripture," Quodlibet Journal, Volume 3, #4, 2001-Fall, at:  http://www.quodlibet.net/
  2. Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the hands of an angry God," at: http://www.jonathanedwards.com/

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Home page > Christianity > Groups > Belief systems > Evangelicals > here

Copyright © 2003 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-APR-8
Latest update: 2008-SEP-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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