Evangelicalism is the idea, concept, association, or in the case of an evangelical, system of action for spreading one's faith, specifically the Christian faith, to sinners in correspondance with the Great Commission. The Bible only mentions a word like "evangelism" once, where Paul says something about "evangel" I think, (Might want to cite this, I know there's something in there about something.) but the Bible does give a good bit of guidelines for sharing our faith, even if it does not specifically lump everything together under an "Evangelical chapter".
Why we evangelize
The Bible tells us that all who do not know the savior will be cast into the lake of fire. (verse goes here) This is, of course, very cruel to simply let happen to people, and furthermore is downright sinful to let happen when we have been commanded to spread the truth to all the nations. (Mark 16:15) Christians should not simply spread the truth of Christianity as a matter of obligation however, but out of love (See: Brotherly Love) for other people, and concern for their eternal salvation.
Different types of evangelism
There are actually several different types of evangelism which fit into somewhat identifiable categories, though not all are effective or even Biblical.
Hell fire preaching is generally characterized by a lack of anything other than scare tactics, attempting to magnify the reality of Hell in order to try and mentally force people to come to Christ out of often pure fear. It does not often go deep into the Law, and does not often attempt to magnify the gospel to any meaningful degree. It can also be quite damaging through it's ineffectiveness. As the Evidence Bible puts it,
- Preaching the reality of Hell, without using the Law to bring the knowladge of sin, can do a great deal of damage to the cause of the gospel...Paul "reasoned" with Felix regarding righteousness, temperance, and judgement to come (Acts 24:25)...Imagine if the police burst into your home, arrested you, and shouted, "You are going away for a long time!" Such conduct would probably leave you bewildered and angry. What they have done seems unreasonable."
Cotton Candy Evangelism is a popular form of evangelism in modern times, especially in the United States. Cotton Candy evangelism is characterized by almost total concentration on the love and mercy of Jesus with little to no mention of Hell, repentence, judgement day, or other things which tell people the real reasons why they should become a Christian. Cotton Candy evangelism can easily produce backsliders, and is rather ineffective due to it's inability to provide people with background on what exactly they are being saved from or for. Typical catch phrases include, "Why don't you ask Jesus into your heart"?
Almost more of a philosophy of evangelistic approach rather than a defining branch of evangelism, friendship evangelism essentially refers to the urge to befriend people first, wait until you've developed a friendship with them, then share the gospel with them. It has some problems however, namely that it can take years to save just one person, if you offend them you've maybe lost a long-time friend, and in the same time you spend befriending one person, you perhaps miss the chance to witness to other people. It is, however, a very popular metholodigy of evangelism for many Christians.
What the Bible says
It says many things. All of which are quite important. For one thing, the Bible tells us the Law is a schoolmaster to bring people to Christ. (Galatians 3:something I think) It also tells us the Law reveals the nature of sin to us so to speak, (I think also in Galations somewhere, this needs citation too.) and that the Law is not evil simply because we are not under the curse of the Law anymore. (Cite those 2 verses here) Since the Great Commission commands us to spread the word of Jesus to the world, the gospel also fits under what the Bible tells us about evangelism. Therefore, the Bible shows us that we must use the Law to bring people to Christ, as otherwise they will regard Christianity as foolishness through not knowing things. (Insert verse about men calling Christ foolishness)
Evangelicalism as a movement
The movement of evangelicalism is perhaps most illustrated by the number of churches in the United States in particular with the word "Evangelical" in their name. The movement is often assocated with the United States variety primarily, as it has somewhat resulted in everything from worldwide television networks (Trinity Broadcasting Network) to evangelical radio shows in certain areas of the country. Evangelicalism, like the expansionist era of ages bygone, also places a good deal of emphasis on spreading the Gospel to other nations, particularly Africa these days. It may of had its early roots in the Fundamentalist Christian movement of the 1920's or somewhere around then.
- Shameless evangelistic site plug
- the Evidence Bible
- In fact, the whole Bible in general
- another shameless plug for an evangelisic ministry site this time
- Ten Commandments just cus it's the law
- Jonathan Edwards Hell-fire preacher of the olden days of America.
The Evidence Bible Bridge-Logos publishers, 2003. And I guess I should add their republication thingy here since the only legal reason I can add in this quotation is at the end of it, "No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means-electronic, mechanic, photographic (photocopy), recording, or otherwise-without prior written permissino from the publisher unless it is for the furtherance of the gospel of salvation and given away free.