Confessional Protestantism Is Evangelical But Distinct From Evangelicalism

Both Bob and I wrote the book as catholic Christians—those who hold to the creeds of the ancient church—and as evangelical Christians—those who believe in justification by grace through faith and identify with ecclesiastical bodies which subscribe to Reformation confessions. To use Bob’s distinction, we do not write as Evangelicals whose movement is rooted in the revivals of the eighteenth century and which draws much of its strength from Baptist and parachurch circles. Thus, the volume has sections on some things of interest to Evangelicals, such as the doctrine of scripture, but also on matters of comparative indifference to Evangelicalism while yet of great importance to the Reformers, such as the Lord’s Supper.

The joy of the project lay much in our friendship but also in the fact that we allowed the history of our creeds and confessions and churches to guide our priorities and our discussion. A common commitment to Nicaea and Chalcedon, and a trust in God’s word and in the righteousness of Christ was the foundation which allowed then for substantial engagement. It also meant that we could disagree while yet preserving a common Christian bond of friendship. Further, it was good to have confessional history set the framework for our discussion. If nothing else, the debate over the Trinity of the last six months has pointed to how contemporary economies of power and money, detached from ecclesiastical accountability, profoundly shape the American Evangelical landscape. It has also revealed how the Evangelical mind is gripped by the notion that, while any deviation on scripture is lethal, considerable flexibility on the doctrine of God is tolerable. History indicates otherwise and Evangelicals need to understand that.

Carl Trueman, Evangelical Ecumenism

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  1. Is the distinction from Rome about immediate, sovereign Spirit wrought salvation by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone to the glory of God alone as revealed in the scriptures alone?

    Since evangelicalism hold at least to the immediate work of the Spirit. How are we formally different.

    • Michial,

      “Evangelicalism” is very hard to define. There’s a good case to be made that it doesn’t much exist, let alone agree on the doctrine of salvation. Whatever it is, it is united by its revivalist roots in the Second Great Awakening. Few of them believed in the sovereign, immediate work of the Spirit.

  2. Thanks for sharing this quote. It looks like it will be a tremendously helpful and timely book.

    I also appreciate your title: “Confessional Protestantism Is Evangelical But Distinct From Evangelicalism.” This alone is helpful.

    Merry Christmas, Dr. Clark!

  3. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book. I had Dr. Kolb as well as Dr. Trueman for ThM classes at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Both were fantastic!

    As I wrote my thesis the following book which Kolb co-edited was immensely helpful in understanding Luther’s theology:

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