In the magazine U.S. News & World Report of December 8, 2003 (pp. 36-44) one important Special Report (Cover Story) appeared, here we provide an overview:




Their Bold Take on Christianity is Changing America.


The New Old-Time Religion.

Evangelicals defy easy labels.

Here is why – and why their numbers are growing.


By Jay Tolson.


Non Traditional, “Seeker-Friendly” Services that use “Drama, Multimedia, and Contemporary Music” Which Reassure and Entertain as Much as They Edify, Serving “Individuals Checking Out What it Really Means to Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus”, from Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., to Bellevue Baptist Church Outside Memphis; or in Suburban Chicago’s Willow Creek Community Church, where every weekend some 17,000 Congregants Arrive, these are the Evangelical Mega-Churches.


We celebrate the 300th anniversary of the theologian Jonathan Edwards, a 18th-century New England preacher, who wanted to transcend denominational lines and emphasized the born-again conversion, Christ’s redemptive role, the unerring authority of the Bible, a personal relationship with God, and a commitment to taking the Gospel to others. Edwards was the major promoter of the First Great Awakening, the religious revival that swept through the Colonies in the 1740s and he modified his own highly orthodox Puritan-Calvinist heritage and unintentionally launched a new and distinctively American religious strain.


Running down its center is Edwards’s overarching concern with the authentic religious experience. As a Calvinist born in 1703 into a family of Congregationalist ministers, he struggled mightily through his own conversion experience while attending Yale College. Like many who were exposed to “Darwinism”, to “Higher Criticism”, and to the “Enlightenment Ideas”, he was troubled by his creed’s insistence on a God whose sovereign will alone determine the eternal salvation or damnation of every human creature. After toying with other theological alternatives, Edwards was suddenly seized by the conviction that God is fair in “eternally disposing of men, according to his sovereign pleasure.” It was the turning point of his life, leaving him forever convinced of the need for the “experiential” validation of faith.


In 1729, Edwards inherited the Northampton, Mass., pulpit of his widely revered grandfather, Solomon Stoddard. But from the beginning he felt uneasy about his grandfather’s lax requirements for church membership. For that reason, Edwards found special value in the revival that he instigated in and around Northampton in 1734. His published account of this spiritual renewal became a major catalyst of the First Great Awakening of the 1740’s, but Edwards had a more personal reason to value the 1734 revival: It provided an alternative means of establishing the spiritual authenticity of his congregants. In his later “Treatise Concerning Religious Affections”, Edwards would caution, however, that intense experience alone is insufficient, even dangerous, unless accompanied by reason, a close regard for Scripture, and a disciplined and regular church life. For Edwards, the existence of a genteel, well-educated, and authoritative clergy was almost an indispensable element of an orderly religious life and society. Eventually, many of his own parishioners began to chafe under Edwards’s strictness, and they finally rebelled and dismissed him from his post! Unbowed, Edwards joined an Indian Missionary Community in Stockbridge, Mass., and for seven years, while preaching to the Mohawks, penned some of his greatest works. In 1757, Edwards accepted the presidency of the College of New Jersey, as Princeton (the place in which Albert Einstein worked many years later) was then called. But soon after Edwards’ installation, his life was cut short by a smallpox inoculation that went bad (who is going to take the baton within the Universities that Edwards left incomplete?).


The Evangelical tradition became the dominant religious force in American culture and politics in the 19th century and up through the early 20th. Along the way it touched just about every major social movement, like abolitionism (Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., which continues to be a beacon of evangelically inspired liberal activism). Evangelism “is the glory of American Christianity”, and includes Billy Graham, Carl F. H. Henry (founding editor of Christianity Today), Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Coppeland, the success of Christian Pop (like Yolanda Adams) and rock groups (like Mercy Me), and the phenomenal sales of the “Left Behind” series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and the related movies and ministry of Kirk Cameron attest to its drawing power.


Evangelical Christianity includes both Pentecostal and Southern Baptist churches, as well as an ever growing array of nondenominational and even some mainline Protestant congregations. Even Fundamentalism is one current within a larger movement. Many highly visible leaders and televangelists are Fundamentalists. Lon Solomon, pastor of the McLean Bible Church near Tysons Corner, Va., a megachurch that draws 10,000 people on Sundays, “abortion and homosexuality are minor concerns in our church. The bell we beat is that we must know Jesus. We are offering people a different and better way to live than secular America offers.” The gathering time of the 1830’s Methodist Camp Meetings were also part of the long history of American evangelicalism, also the preaching of the Rev. Billy Sunday to a full house in Newport News, Va., in the 1920’s and Oral Roberts (a Pentecostal “star”) at a 1956 Minneapolis revival.


The demographic explosion that saw America grow from 2 ½ million in 1776 to 20 million in 1845 came a huge expansion and transformation of the religious landscape, with the number of ministers per capita more than tripling. But these ministers belonged mainly to upstart and aggressively evangelizing churches, the Baptists, Methodists, Disciples of Christ, and assorted African-American churches of those and other denominations. All these new churches shared Edwards’s convictions that revival was a central part of the religious experience. All were populist, democratic, anti-elitist, and even anti-institutional. This democratic revolution in American Protestantism established the lastingly populistic character of evangelical Christianity. And its broad, folksy appeal is probably the single greatest reason that America became and remained the most religious of all modern industrial nations.


The Second Great Awakening opened the doors of the ministry to anti-institutional tendencies, and to people from all rungs of society and often to people without any particular education or training for the ministry.


Catholicism still have institutional excesses, that in the past caused the emergence of Protestantism, which shifted the focus of religious life toward individual experience (with God and His Word). Still, the leaders of Reformed Christianity – Martin Luther, John Calvin, and their heirs in America – believed their new churches required what Nathan Hatch calls the “ecclesiastical walls of liturgy, governance, theology, and instruction.” The evangelical explosion of the early 19th century threatened to bring down those walls. As denominations subdivided into new denominations, offering frontier Americans an expanding menu of possibilities, the old, quasi-established denominations, Anglicanism and Congregationalism, lost their authority and following. And ministers of the new, upstart churches often behaved like shameless hucksters in their efforts to win over others.


Changes in the character of the ministry and splintering both contributed to a growing vagueness about “theology”. In addition to the widespread rejection of Calvinism, perhaps the most radical challenge to theological authority was the democratic notion that the Bible can be read without help from established interpretive traditions.


While most evangelicals would like to see Christian morality as the ruling ethos of the Nation, they also believe Americans should be free to live the way they choose. “The bottom line,” says North Carolina’s Smith, “is that evangelicals subscribe to personal faith as paramount… You can’t shove religion down people’s throats.”


The growing influence of evangelicalism is everywhere: From the White House and the halls of Congress to a vastly expanding spiritual self-help movement to the most vigorous Christian missionary effort in the developing world (evangelical churches, particularly Southern Baptist and Pentecostal, now send far more missionaries abroad than mainline churches, reversing the pattern of the early 20th century).


In the political arena, in addition to George W. Bush, whose conversion experience is arguably what set him on the road to politics in the first place, evangelicals in prominent places include the Attorney General, the Speaker of the House, and the House Majority Leader, among others. Evangelical language and concerns, from faith-based social initiatives to attitudes toward same-sex unions, and America’s relations with Israel, shape both the rhetoric and many of the policies of the current administration. And particularly since 9/11, evangelical notions about God’s special covenant with the American people have contributed to a quasi-religious nationalism that casts America as the chosen nation engaged in a righteous struggle with evil. Democratic Ex-President Jimmy Carter was every bit as open about his personal relationship with Jesus as George Bush is. Whether they identify more closely with Republicans or Democrats, evangelicals are captive of neither party.


Recently, the Republican administration of George W. Bush has been particularly aggressive in responding to evangelical concerns, both in its domestic policies (through judicial appointments and support for anti-gay-marriage legislation) and in foreign-policy initiatives that range from fighting AIDS to ending sex trafficking [one of the pictures of the original article shows the President Bush and the Vice President Cheney in prayer at a Department of Education ceremony in 2001].


When researchers focus on ordinary evangelicals, as University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill sociologist Christian Smith does in his book “Christian America? What Evangelicals Really Want”, they find “more diversity, complexity, and ambivalence than conventional wisdom would lead us to expect”, or as Boston College sociologist Alan Wolfe which in his book “The Transformation of American Religion” argues that characteristics of the evangelical style are, its strongly personalist and therapeutic tendencies, its market-savvy approaches to expanding the flock, its revivalism, entrepreneurial – the mega-church, and even a certain theological fuzziness, have permeated other faith traditions, “we are back to a situation in which evangelicalism dominates our culture,” says Wolfe. George Madsen, a University of Notre Dame historian and author of “Jonathan Edwards: A Life”, put the matter surely at a recent Library of Congress symposium, when he declared that American history “recounted without its religious history or Edwards is like Moby Dick without the whale.”


Adaptable and improvisatory, emotionally engaging and sustaining, American evangelical religion has provided a most accessible spiritual home for a highly individualistic, egalitarian, and mobile people. New challenges need to be met with intelligence and “religious conviction”. If Evangelicals heed Edwards’s criticism of “Enlightenment Science and Philosophy”, they can be less frightened by later scientific theories, like Darwinian evolutionary theory. We need to do intelligent and informed readings of the Scripture. Evangelical scholars would just like to see their fellow evangelicals being more thoughtful – and with a little more mindfulness of where they came from.


Edwards believed that Christians worldwide, and not just Americans, had a unique place in the unfolding history of humankind’s redemption. To the extent that Edwards acknowledged America’s collective covenant with God, says Sang Hyun Lee of Princeton Theological Seminary, he believed that it was contingent upon the nation’s actions – and particularly upon whether they were godly or not. Edwards did believe in evil and would have understood why Bush uses the word to describe terrorists. But, attempts to ascribe high moral purpose to all of America’s actions would have invited Edwards’s cautioning words.


For all the faults that Edwards might have found in the Evangelical Christians of today, however, they still continue to exhibit a quality that he would have considered paramount: They are serious about their religion and seriously concerned about the authenticity of their belief.


Laura Camp, a 26-year-old aspiring opera singer in Cherry Hill, N. J. believes that the Gospel shouldn’t be twisted to suit contemporary mores like homosexuality. Still says that is not her job to condemn – the Holy Spirit will take care of that. Camp says: “My job is to have a growing relationship with God”.


Nick Giordano, 46, father of three, a pork-industry lobbyist who lives in Northern Virginia and is a member of an evangelically oriented Episcopal Congregation manifests that there is something about his practice of Christianity that demands taking the example of Christ seriously: “It’s impossible to do that if you don’t hang out with him, and you can’t do that unless you read the Bible. And you don’t hear from him through the (gift of ) holy spirit if you are selectively cutting things out of your Bible.”


Such seriousness about the business of faith may be one reason why evangelical churches are expanding while many mainline Protestant churches shrink.


Our great commission is to bring the “good news” to others.


Teachings Page.

Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 1 (large file, slow download, 10,952 KB).

Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 2 (large file, slow download, 11,912 KB).

The Fundamentals.



A similar Awakening today can be seen in Africa, and I hope it will be World-Wide, just before that great day of the promised coming of Jesus Christ to take us, all of the born again believers, the members of his Body, to take us away from here.


Useful Links:

Research on Intelligent Design


Tasters of the Word (YouTube), videos recientes: "Astronomía y Nacimiento de Jesucristo: Once de Septiembre Año Tres A.C.", "Estudio sobre Sanidades" (en 20 episodios), "Jesus Christ, Son or God?" and "We've the Power to Heal":

Tasters of the Word (the blog, with: "Astronomy and the Birth of Jesus Christ"):


And a commercial before we go:

Window Cleaning of Ronnie Petree, where my wife works (smile): Good Looking Glass of Houston (serving also at: Katy, Surgarland, Conroe, Kingwood, Woodlands, Galveston).