Contribution by Garry Williams: “Enlightenment Epistemology and Eighteenth-Century Evangelical Doctrines of Assurance”

David Bebbington’s ‘Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s’, published in 1989, offered an intriguing hypothesis regarding the genesis of this movement. He argued that evangelical religion had emerged as a substantially new entity through trans-Atlantic evangelical revival in the 1730s, and had taken a collaborative rather than antithetical stance towards the Enlightenment. In both respects, Bebbington distanced himself from older interpretations that had held the opposite view.
Now, after nearly two decades, the ‘Bebbington thesis’ has gained very wide international acceptance, and a review of its central contentions and implications is appropriate. In this stimulating volume, numerous scholars from arts and theology faculties on both sides of the Atlantic, representing several countries, and united by an admiration of Bebbington’s work, take up various aspects of the 1989 volume and offer re-assessments. David Bebbington himself offers a substantial response.
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