Monday, 25 August 2003

Evangelical takeover forecast

Writing in today’s Telegraph, Jonathan Petre reports on a new study by Peter Brierley of Christian Research. He says this suggests that, if current trends continue, evangelicals will make up more than half of all Sunday church worshippers in 10 years’ time, up from about a third now. Moreover, all but a tiny proportion of the new breed of evangelicals will be theologically conservative, viewing sex outside marriage, including homosexuality, as outlawed by Scripture.

Petre’s full article here does contain some criticisms of the research by Gordon Lynch of Birmingham University. TA will seek more information too.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 25 August 2003 at 11:27am BST | TrackBack
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I must admit I take most of this sort of research with a large dollop of salt. And I always compensate for what I perceive as the biases of the researcher, and of the media outlet printing the story :>)

Perhaps it's just the choice of words that the Telegraph has to use for its wider readership but for me the word "mainstream" seems to have been appropriated here for a type of evangelicalism that most of us would call "conservative", and it is contrasted with "broad or liberal" which is not a pair of adjectives commonly used to distinguish brands of evangelical faith. The use of the word "mainstream" may well be part of the current effort by conservative evangelicals to create a piece of terminology that allows them to pretend to a more significant role than their actual numbers would warrant.

I am happier to use the conventional alternatives of "open" or "conservative" evangelical (of which charismatics may come into either category). Open evangelicals may well espouse socially conservative positions but recognise a legitimate diversity and would not be inclined to campaign for socially regressive goals, either in church or state. Most of the evangelical clergy I know would be in this category rather than conservative. They are unlikely to join campaigns to withhold quota.

Posted by: David Walker on Monday, 25 August 2003 at 12:08pm BST

The Church Times had an article on this, "which you can read here":, and it also published some statistics for Europe, "which you can read here":

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 31 August 2003 at 5:38pm BST