What does the term ‘evangelikal’ actually mean? Where do its origins lie? When and how was the designation ‘evangelikal’ (Evangelical) introduced into the German-language world?

BuchcoverA new book by Frank Hinkelmann introduces the development of the emergence of the Evangelical movement in its historical and theological perspectives and depicts in the later chapters the various developments in Germany, Austria, and German-speaking Switzerland. For the first time, the author also presents an analysis of the public reception of the Evangelical movement, whereby the focus is on the leading daily and weekly newspapers as well as political magazines in all three countries. A final chapter offers a definition of the term ‘evangelikal’ within a theological perspective.

The book was published in cooperation with the German, Austrian, and Swiss Evangelical Alliances.

Statement by Thomas Bucher

In Switzerland the term ‘evangelikal’ is avoided if at all possible. Who wants to be pushed into the fundamentalist corner? In Germany, it is knowingly used as a form of positioning and in Austria the term ‘evangelisch’ (meaning Protestant) is legally protected and what is often left is ‘evangelikal.’ How all of this developed and what ‘Evangelical’ actually means is soundly and helpfully described by Frank Hinkelmann in his new book Evangelikal.

Thomas Bucher, Secretary General of the European Evangelical Alliance

The Author

Frank Hinkelmann studied Evangelical theology in Gießen (Germany) and Apeldoorn (Holland) and completed doctoral studies at the Free University in Amsterdam. His research focus is in the area of the history of missions, the Evangelical movement, Pietism, and Austrian confessional studies. He works full time as the senior executive of an international and cross-denominational missions agency. He was the Chairman of the Austrian Evangelical Alliance for 12 years and is currently the President of the European Evangelical Alliance as well as Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance. He is an honorary pastor in the Evangelical church and lives with his family in Lower Austria.

Foreword by Thomas Schirrmacher

BuchcoverThe number of Evangelicals is experiencing strong growth worldwide. At the same time, however, in some regions of the world the term is being used in a more and more vague manner. In addition, the meaning of ‘evangelikal,’ it’s English form ‘Evangelical,’ and its corresponding terms in other important languages in the world can at least vary some from country to country in its meaning. In some countries there is a decidedly more positive overtone that resonates (as in Korea, where Evangelicals were particularly ascribed the role of having fought for democracy and against dictatorship) so much that some of them label themselves as Evangelical which they probably are not. In other countries there is another, and often also a more negative overtone (for instance in Germany, where Evangelicals are called upon to justify everything which Evangelicals do in the USA in the broadest sense). Hence there are differences revealed in the statistics in various countries as to how many Christians label themselves as Evangelical and how many are counted as Evangelical by researchers covering the Evangelical movement.

This is reason enough to historically investigate how this term sprang up and has been used with respect to German-speaking countries. And at this point there are three completely different approaches. Who would be better suited for the research than Dr. Frank Hinkelmann, who has up to now already submitted several foundational academic studies having to do with this topic and for this work has looked at much material in the archives in the countries in question which no one prior to him has taken into account? As the President of the European Evangelical Alliance and Secretary of the International Council of the World Evangelical Alliance, he also has a very good insight into the breadth of Evangelical history around the world. Despite his affiliation with Evangelicals, in every respect he counts as an impartial church historian. On the one hand, this is because he does not shrink from repeatedly giving homework to the Evangelical movement. On the other hand, this is due to the fact that as a denominational researcher he writes fairly and in a well-researched manner. He does this so much so that the Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna, for example, awarded a printing cost subsidy for his Confessional Studies (Böhlau Publishing House: Vienna, 2016). Needless to say, that church itself is described in detail in Confessional Studies. It is also no wonder that when the three German-speaking Alliances saw the finished manuscript, they declared themselves prepared to promote it in order to initiate a discussion among their own members.

The fact that at the end of the book the author puts up his own theological definition of ‘evangelikal’ for discussion from the historical material does not contradict this. Instead, every reader can expect that the history researched also yields something that is applicable for us today.

Prof. Dr. theol. Dr. phil. Thomas Schirrmacher, DD
Deputy Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, responsible for theology, theological training, ecumenism, religious dialog, and religious freedom

Bibliographical information:

  • Frank Hinkelmann. Evangelikal: in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz. Ursprung, Bedeutung und Rezeption eines Begriffes. Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft: Bonn, 2017. Pb. 168 S. 12.00 €. ISBN 978-3-86269-141-8.

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