Mormons, myself included are often clueless, about protestants and evangelicals? What’s the difference? I asked that question to Steven Pynakker, host of Mormon Book Reviews, and he gives his best answer.
GT: You’ve got your Catholics. You’ve got your Protestants. You’ve got your evangelicals, and I don’t really understand what’s the difference between a Protestant and an evangelical. It just seems like the evangelicals are the more missionary-minded and the Protestants may not be. Is that a good definition?
Steve: Yeah, so I think the best way to look at it is that within Protestantism every single protestant denomination has what you could call an evangelical/charismatic wing. Some evangelicals are charismatic. All charismatics are evangelicals. So, you’ll have churches within, even the Church of England. You have evangelical churches in the Church of England, in the Episcopal Church or Anglican Church, as they call in England.
Steve: So, throughout all Protestantism, you have this evangelical streak. Now, what essentially happened is, for instance, the protestant churches that Joseph was dealing with, I would say they were definitely evangelical. The mainline churches were all what we would call evangelical today. As modernism entered into the church in going into the 19th into the early 20th century, what you had was a modernist-fundamentalist or conservative split in every single church. So, you then have mainline Presbyterians, which is the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which is the liberal one. But then you have the Presbyterian Church in America, which is conservative and evangelical. You have that same pattern in almost every denomination where you have a liberal mainline church and then it’s conservative offshoot. So, they might still have Lutheran in their name or Presbyterian, but the mainline has those names, but then there’s evangelical ones that are very similar in their name. Then, from that, you had the charismatic renewal movement, which happened in the 60s and 70s and that caused kind of a different paradigm shift, where then it went from being associated with a denomination to individual churches starting on their own and maybe affiliating with each other in loose confederations, or those parent churches starting smaller churches and growing them throughout the country, like Calvary Chapel did in 70s, which is big in California and such. So, that’s kind of the difference is that protestant is the old line. We call it the main line, but really it’s the old line and now evangelicalism is the ascendant part of protestant Christianity. And evangelical is appropriate because they’re trying to evangelize. Does that kind of answer it?
GT: When you say charismatic, I think of Pentecostals speaking in tongues, people with kind of raucous clapping in church and maybe drums and guitars and things like that. Whereas protestant mainline would be more subdued worship services. Is that kind of a fair breakdown of how that is?
Steve: All those conventions are breaking down and basically what happens is even with your mainline churches you have a situation where the evangelical, the traditional churches now have contemporary service and traditional service every Sunday morning. So, many of them are doing that. I guess the biggest difference is that Pentecostals came out of Southern California, Azusa Street around 1906 and these were basically poor people, black people as well as Armenian. The Kardashian family comes from the Pentecostal movement, just so you know.
Who knew the Kardashians would become part of the conversation? How do you define the difference between evangelicals and protestants? Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our previous conversation with Steven.