Special Issue "Progressive Evangelicalism"

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A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Brantley W. Gasaway

Department of Religion, Bucknell University, One Dent Drive, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA
Phone: +1 570 577 3180
Fax: +1 570 577 1064
Interests: religion and politics; religion and law; evangelicalism; religion and popular culture

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Although the Religious Right has represented the popular face of American evangelicals' political engagement since the late 1970s, a minority of politically progressive evangelical leaders have promoted an alternative public agenda over the past four decades. Representatives such as Sojourners' Jim Wallis, Evangelicals for Social Action's Ron Sider, and Tony Campolo have insisted that Christians have a religious responsibility to prioritize reforms of injustices and inequalities in their political participation. In recent years, progressive evangelical leaders have increasingly captured the attention of evangelical audiences, journalists, politicians, and scholars. In the process, they have reinvigorated debates within American evangelical circles about the nature and priorities of Christians' social and political activism. Yet socially and politically progressive evangelicalism is neither a recent nor uniquely American phenomenon. Thus this special issue of Religions explores both historical and contemporary expressions of progressive evangelicalism, not only within the United States but also in international contexts. Scholars are invited to contribute articles from a broad range of methodological approaches that analyze progressive evangelicals and their efforts to confront social injustices and inequalities.

Dr. Brantley W. Gasaway
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • progressive evangelicalism
  • evangelical left
  • social justice
  • social reform
  • evangelicals and politics
  • Jim Wallis
  • Sojourners

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Asian American Evangelicals in Multiracial Church Ministry
Religions 2013, 4(2), 190-208; doi:10.3390/rel4020190
Received: 7 February 2013 / Revised: 3 April 2013 / Accepted: 8 April 2013 / Published: 15 April 2013
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Abstract
Since the 1990s, evangelical efforts to create multiracial churches (MRCs) have grown exponentially. This article analyzes the experiences of Asian American evangelical ministers leading MRCs. Through interviews we explore how Asian American evangelicals came to be involved in MRC-ministry and how they [...] Read more.
Since the 1990s, evangelical efforts to create multiracial churches (MRCs) have grown exponentially. This article analyzes the experiences of Asian American evangelical ministers leading MRCs. Through interviews we explore how Asian American evangelicals came to be involved in MRC-ministry and how they approach issues of racial diversity in this context. We compare the racial attitudes of Asian American evangelical ministers leading MRCs with those of White and Black evangelicals delineated in Emerson and Smith’s Divide by Faith. Rather than conform to the colorblind approach of many White evangelicals, the majority of our respondents utilize structural explanations for social inequality and promote a colorconscious approach to diversity. We conclude that Asian American evangelicals utilize a unique framework for MRC-ministry, what we call a ‘racialized multiculturalism,’ that has much to offer American evangelicalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progressive Evangelicalism)
Open AccessArticle The New Internationalists: World Vision and the Revival of American Evangelical Humanitarianism, 1950–2010
Religions 2012, 3(4), 922-949; doi:10.3390/rel3040922
Received: 26 July 2012 / Revised: 13 September 2012 / Accepted: 19 September 2012 / Published: 8 October 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (618 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
International relief and development agencies consistently rank among the largest evangelical organizations, and in recent decades, they have gained increased exposure and influence within the greater humanitarian community. World Vision, the largest evangelical agency, is also the largest Christian humanitarian organization in [...] Read more.
International relief and development agencies consistently rank among the largest evangelical organizations, and in recent decades, they have gained increased exposure and influence within the greater humanitarian community. World Vision, the largest evangelical agency, is also the largest Christian humanitarian organization in the world. Themes of politics and culture wars have led many to scholars to categorize American evangelicals into distinct conservative and liberal parties. Yet the history of American evangelicals’ humanitarianism demonstrates how they often resisted such dichotomies. As evangelical humanitarian agencies expanded exponentially over the past five decades, they came to embrace a “holistic gospel” that helped shape evangelical mission debates concerning the relationship between evangelism and social action; they engaged international evangelicals that forced Americans to reconsider their own categories; and many modeled a practical ecumenism that allowed evangelicals to expand beyond a limited subculture to work alongside other religious and even secular NGOs. While other evangelical progressives fragmented over identity politics or remained tethered to small alterative communities, the leading aid agencies have achieved broad support across evangelicalism, making them some of the most influential voices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progressive Evangelicalism)
Open AccessArticle Embodying the Global Soul: Internationalism and the American Evangelical Left
Religions 2012, 3(4), 887-901; doi:10.3390/rel3040887
Received: 18 June 2012 / Revised: 13 September 2012 / Accepted: 19 September 2012 / Published: 27 September 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (331 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the last half of the twentieth century, neo-evangelicalism moved from an anticommunist nationalist consensus to a new internationalism characterized by concern for human rights, justice, and economic development. Case studies of World Vision, a global relief and development organization, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a campus ministry, demonstrate that this trajectory was due in part to a growing global reflex in which many missionaries and third-world evangelicals “spoke back” to American evangelicalism. Interpreting the Bible for themselves—and increasingly for American evangelicals—substantial numbers of non-Western converts and missionaries offered sharp criticisms of American politics, culture, and capitalism. These critiques, sacralized by their origins on the mission field, helped turn some young evangelicals toward Vietnam protests, poverty relief, civil rights, and a tempered nationalism. By the 1970s, these progressive elements—and a more resolute global concern generally—had become important markers of the evangelical left. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progressive Evangelicalism)
Open AccessArticle Emerging Churches in Post-Christian Canada
Religions 2012, 3(3), 862-879; doi:10.3390/rel3030862
Received: 2 July 2012 / Revised: 1 September 2012 / Accepted: 4 September 2012 / Published: 13 September 2012
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Abstract
The traditional mainline and evangelical churches in Canada, as in most western countries, are either in decline or static. Taken as a measure of the future, the prospects for Christianity in Canada, and more broadly the West, are bleak. Post-Christian Canada, however, [...] Read more.
The traditional mainline and evangelical churches in Canada, as in most western countries, are either in decline or static. Taken as a measure of the future, the prospects for Christianity in Canada, and more broadly the West, are bleak. Post-Christian Canada, however, contains thriving alternative and innovative forms of church, often called ‘emerging’ churches. They take many forms of expression, but share common theological convictions. Based on site research and personal interviews, this article describes the various types and contexts of these churches in Canada. It then highlights three of their central theological characteristics. First, rejecting the ‘culture wars’ social involvement of Christendom churches, they embrace practices and initiatives that transform their local communities. Second, they embrace an incarnational and contextual understanding of Christian life and ministry. Eschewing mega-church franchise models, they endeavor to shape their ministry to the their local communities. Third, they adopt a comprehensive rather than compartmental spirituality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progressive Evangelicalism)
Open AccessArticle Misión Integral and Progressive Evangelicalism: The Latin American Influence on the North American Emerging Church
Religions 2012, 3(3), 790-807; doi:10.3390/rel3030790
Received: 14 June 2012 / Revised: 12 August 2012 / Accepted: 17 August 2012 / Published: 23 August 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (336 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Though commonly identified with the conservative politics of the Christian Right, over the past decade evangelicals in the United States have increasingly embraced a more politically progressive range of social concerns. Often treated as something wholly new, this trend actually has roots [...] Read more.
Though commonly identified with the conservative politics of the Christian Right, over the past decade evangelicals in the United States have increasingly embraced a more politically progressive range of social concerns. Often treated as something wholly new, this trend actually has roots in Latin American evangelicalism from the 1970s. Latin American theologian/practitioners like C. René Padilla and Samuel Escobar of the Latin American Theological Fellowship, promoted a holistic vision of the church’s mission, what they called misión integral, seeking to integrate both evangelism and socio-political involvement on behalf of the poor and oppressed. These Latin American thinkers played a direct role in the rise of progressive evangelicalism in the United States in the 1970s. While overshadowed for a time by the Christian Right, the concept of misión integral and its Latin American exponents has continued to influence the resurgence of progressive social concerns among North American evangelicals in the first decade of the 21st century, and especially those associated with the emerging church movement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progressive Evangelicalism)
Open AccessArticle Into the Grey: The Left, Progressivism, and Christian Rock in Uptown Chicago
Religions 2012, 3(2), 498-522; doi:10.3390/rel3020498
Received: 6 April 2012 / Revised: 10 May 2012 / Accepted: 24 May 2012 / Published: 8 June 2012
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Abstract
Founded in 1972, Jesus People USA (JPUSA) is an evangelical “intentional community” located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Living out of a common purse arrangement, this inner-city commune strives to counter much of what the Right stands for. An expression of the Evangelical [...] Read more.
Founded in 1972, Jesus People USA (JPUSA) is an evangelical “intentional community” located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Living out of a common purse arrangement, this inner-city commune strives to counter much of what the Right stands for. An expression of the Evangelical Left, the commune’s various expressions of social justice are popularized through the music produced by the community and their annual festival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progressive Evangelicalism)

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