Evangelicalism is a Protestant movement embraced within a variety of Christian denominations, based on the idea that religious salvation can be achieved through adherence to the word of God as delivered through the Bible.
While they may go by different denominational names, evangelical Christians are unified as a group and set apart from other Christians by certain core beliefs.
Different from other denominations, the top five identifying beliefs of evangelical Christians are:
1. They point to a specific, personal conversion experience in which they are “born again” or “saved.” According to PrayerFoundation.com,”individuals (above an age of accountability) must personally trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.”
2. Evangelical Christians believe in the Bible as God’s inspired Word to humankind, perfect in truth in the original text. It is the “final authority in all matters of doctrine and faith — above all human authority,” according to EvangelicalBeliefs.com.
3. Evangelicals believe the work of Jesus on the cross, through his death and resurrection, is the only source of salvation and forgiveness of sins. PrayerFoundation.com makes it clear that salvation is through faith alone.
People can do nothing to earn their way to heaven. Instead, as EvangelicalBeliefs.com points out, believers do “good works in grateful response to our pardon, not to cause it.”
4. Evangelical Christians are strongly motivated to share the gospel either one-on-one or through organized missions. Emphasis is placed on the Great Commission’s call to share with the world the Christian message of salvation through Christ, and to “be publicly baptized as a confession of faith,” according to PrayerFoundation.com.
5. Most, though not all, evangelicals believe there will be a rapture in the end times where the church will be “caught up with Christ before the Great Tribulation, leaving nonbelievers behind to suffer on Earth,” states the Pew Research Center. This idea has gained attention through the “Left Behind” book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and the related movies.
So with their faith in the Bible and Jesus, evangelical Christians may seem similar to other Christian denominations, even bearing some of the same names. But their unique beliefs and interpretations of Christianity make them a distinct worldwide movement, emphasizing the “born again” experience, the infallibility of the Bible, salvation by faith in Jesus alone, the need to evangelize or spread their message, and the rapture of the church in the end times.