Programs & Research

Evangelical Studies Program

The evangelical movement is a section of Protestantism that is growing.  In the United States it has overtaken the mainline churches, and in the majority world it has mushroomed over recent years. Evangelicals, alongside Roman Catholics, are likely to form the great bulk of Christians in the world of the future. Some of the main outlines of the history of the movement since the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century are fairly well known, but there are other aspects that have been little studied.  There are fields of American evangelical history such as the evolution of its doctrine of assurance or its image in literature that remain uncultivated, and some lands where it has put down roots more recently lack thorough academic scrutiny altogether. There is great scope for the development of scholarship on evangelical Christianity.

For many years down to 2014 there existed at Wheaton College, Illinois, an Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.  It held a number of international conferences and generated several important collections of essays in the field. The Program under the auspices of the Institute for Studies of Religion has tried to pick up the torch of the Wheaton agency by promoting the scrutiny of evangelical history, but to extend its coverage beyond the confines of the United States.

The need for study is apparent at a time when evangelical identity is under widespread discussion. Authentic evangelicalism is not a political bloc of American voters but an international religious movement emphasizing the Bible, the cross, conversion and activism. That movement, in all its variety, needs to be explained in depth and detail if its identity is to be understood in the contemporary world. All Christian denominations containing evangelicals are within the scope of the Program. The central aim of the Evangelical Studies Program is to promote influential academic research.  It achieves that goal by holding conferences, which have so far been held on-line and so have attracted scholars from all over the globe, and by publishing material, whether from conferences or otherwise. The Program gives particular attention to emerging scholars from countries with relatively short evangelical histories.

The conference held in 2020 addressed Evangelicals in Latin America and that in 2021 dealt with Evangelicals and Religious Freedom. A volume from the first has been published by Baylor University Press as The Gospel in Latin America: Historical Studies in Evangelicalism and the Global South and a volume from the second is being prepared for publication by the same firm. A third conference, taking as its subject Evangelicals on their Past, is planned for October 2022.

The Program has established a roster of Fellows, making it a global hub for the study of evangelicals. They include George Marsden, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, Stuart Piggin, Conjoint Associate Professor of History, Macquarie University, Australia, and Narola Imchen, former Principal, Eastern Theological College, Rajabari, Jorhat, Assam, India. The director is David Bebbington, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Stirling, Scotland, U. K., and Visiting Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor.

David Bebbington
Visiting Distinguished Professor of History and Senior Fellow of ISR


Program Fellows

Upcoming Events:

Evangelicals on their Past: Studies in the History of Evangelical Historiography
October 5, 2022, to October 7, 2022
A conference exploring the ways in which global Evangelicals have written about their own past

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