Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience

Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 568
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  • Book Info
    Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience
    Book Description:

    An impressive list of specialists in the field examine the evangelical impulse in various denominations, from the mainstream Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and United, through Baptists, Mennonites, and Lutherans, to the more sectish groups, including Holiness, Christian Mission Alliance, and the Pentecostals. Also included are comparisons between Canadian and American, British, and Australian evangelicalism and essays on evangelical networks, leaders and revivals, women, and evangelicalism in the 1990s.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6648-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    E.J Errington
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)

    Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experienceis a collection of invited papers which, with one exception, were originally presented at a conference held at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, in May 1995. The conference was made possible because of a very generous grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Without this financial support, the conference would not and could not have taken place.

    In the summer of 1992 conference participants were asked to use “as a very rough guide” for their various papers dealing with “the evolving Canadian evangelical experience in the so-called mainstreamandnonmainstream Protestant denominations” the Bebbington “quadrilateral.”¹ In...

    • 1 Canadian Evangelicalism: A View from the United States
      (pp. 3-20)
      MARK A. NOLL

      Two widely separated incidents can serve to introduce a portrait of evangelicalism in Canada as it looks from the United States. The first, which I take from fine recent books by William Westfall and John Webster Grant, concerns two of Ontario’s great religious leaders of the nineteenth century, the Methodist Egerton Ryerson (1803-1882) and the Anglican John Strachan (1778-1867).¹ Strachan, who eventually became the bishop of Toronto, was Ontario’s most active proponent of an Anglican establishment as the necessary vehicle for creating a Christian civilization in the Canadian wilderness. Ryerson came to public attention in 1826 when he published a...

    • 2 “Up from Downunder”: An Australian View of Canadian Evangelicalism
      (pp. 21-37)

      Historians are always interested in asking “what if” questions: What if Theodosius had not been thrown from his horse, or if Napoleon had not invaded Russia, or if the late and, in some circles, not so lamented Conservative government in Canada had not been so interested in the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA). This, you might say, is our voyeurism coming out. What ancient historian, for instance, would not have liked to have had the sort of coverage for the assassination of Julius Caesar that Oliver Stone had for JFK. One could imagine it -“Big Julie” walks into the...

    • 3 Canadian Evangelicalism: A View from Britain
      (pp. 38-54)

      Evangelical Protestantism in Canada is commonly seen as poised between its American and British counterparts. The United States, according to this standard view, has promoted enthusiasm, innovation, extremism while Britain has encouraged decorum, restraint, and moderation. Over the whole period between the eighteenth century and present, it is believed, ebullient Americans have urged populist techniques on their northern neighbours, whereas Great Britain, at least the decay of its influence during the twentieth century, has exported the values of decency and order. In a recent and most persuasive book, Nathan Hatch has argued that between the American Revolution and about 1830...

    • 4 “Who Whom?”: Evangelicalism Canadian Society
      (pp. 55-70)

      Vladimir Ilych Lenin was not, to my knowledge, either a Canadian or an evangelical. He did, however, tersely put the question to which I am attempting to respond. “Who whom?” Lenin once asked:Who in societyshall be the subject of the sentence,whoshall be the agent of influence, acting uponwhomas object?¹ The matter compels me to ask both about the influence of evangelicals upon Canadian society and about the influence of that society upon evangelicals.

      The inquiry and response to this pair of questions will propose research programs rather than provide authoritative answers. Scholarship on late...

    • 5 “A March of Victory and Triumph in Praise of ‘The Beauty of Holiness’”: Laity and the Evangelical Impulse in Canadian Methodism, 1880-1884
      (pp. 73-89)

      To speak of the evangelical impulse in Canadian Methodism in the nineteenth century is to draw attention to a story of aggressive and apparently irrepressible growth, approvingly recorded and evaluated by contemporaries as “a constant exhibition of the glorious Gospel of Christ.”¹ Where in 1792. Canadian work by the New York and Genesee Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church had counted only 165 members, by 1884, following a series of unions, the denomination could boast a total membership of 169,803.

      Well served by contemporary clerical statisticians and historians in chronicling its “rise and progress,” the denomination in Canada continues to...

    • 6 Condensation and Heart Religion: Canadian Methodists as Evangelicals, 1884-1925
      (pp. 90-105)

      In the tall of 1919 the Methodist Church joined with other major Canadian denominations in launching a national campaign for the Inter-Church Forward Movement. Methodism’s ambitious goals included a 25 per cent increase in membership, the enlisting of 5,000 young people for “life service” as ministers or missionaries, and a financial target of $4,000,000 for its “connexional” activities coordinated at district, regional, national, and international levels. Each local congregation was urged to follow the carefully laid out week-by-week strategy beginning with attention to the campaign’s spiritual aims, followed by a canvassing of every church member, and culminating in the collection...

    • 7 “We Will Evangelize with a Whole Gospel or None”: Evangelicalism and the United Church of Canada
      (pp. 106-122)

      In January 1983, even as national newspapers and magazines were wondering about the rise of “conservative evangelicals” in North America, a United Church presbytery in North Bay, Ontario, fired a wellknown minister, apparently as a result of his evangelical style. Through a series of ecclesiastical and civil court cases that lasted almost a decade, the Rev. Ronald McCaw argued that he had been released not because of some obvious deficiency in his pastoral role, as the presbytery had claimed, but rather because “he was the victim of an anti-evangelical sentiment in the United Church of Canada.”¹ McCaw was not, of...

    • 8 “Crackling Sounds from the Burning Bush”: The Evangelical Impulse in Canadian Presbyterianism before 1875
      (pp. 123-136)

      Canadian Presbyterians of 1875 chose as their emblem the ancient symbol of the burning bush, and the mottonec tamen consumebatur,rendered in English as “not however being consumed.” In academic battles over concepts such as Canadianization and secularization, most historians of Presbyterianism have been drawn either to the light of theology or the heat generated by battles over Clergy Reserves, education, missions, or the installation of organs in church.¹ Recent scholars have demonstrated that a distinctive, accommodating evangelicalism emerged from the colonial era and played a central role in creating the mind and policy that characterized Canadian Presbyterianism until...

    • 9 From Preaching to Propaganda to Marginalization: The Lost Centre of Twentieth-Century Presbyterianism
      (pp. 137-153)

      In 1893 at the International Christian Conference held in Chicago in conjunction with the Congress of Religions, George Monro Grant, principal of Queen’s University, presented the report on the condition of Protestantism in Canada. On the surface, things looked satisfactory from a Presbyterian perspective. Unlike in many parts of Europe, Grant judged “church-going habits” to still be “universal”: “The Lord’s day is reverently observed in every part of the land. The ministry of the gospel is held in high esteem.”¹ He pointed to an abundance of candidates for the ministry and broad support for foreign missions as further encouraging signs....

    • 10 Evangelical Anglicans and the Atlantic World: Politics, Ideology, and the British North American Connection
      (pp. 154-170)

      In 1861 and 1862 Isaac Hellmuth, the newly appointed archdeacon of Huron, made two trips to England to canvass his evangelical friends for “funds for the establishment of a sound Evangelical College from which men may be sent forth to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all godly simplicity and fullness.”¹ From a financial point of view Hellmuth’s trips were a resounding success. He raised some £23,000 for the proposed college, as well as a further endowment of £5,000 for the principalship and a divinity chair from Rev. Alfred Peache.² The trips, however, were not without controversy. In January...

    • 11 Redefining Evangelicalism in the Canadian Anglican Church: Wycliffe College and the Evangelical Party, 1867-1995
      (pp. 171-188)

      In June 1994 in Montreal a diverse gathering of people met to discuss future of the Anglican Church in Canada. One of the speakers, the Rev. Harry Robinson of Vancouver, described the situation confronting church today. “The gospel is at a crossroads,” he claimed. “Anglicanism has served a purpose in history and probably will continue to so. But it’s the gospel in a post-Christian Canada that really is important. “The groups represented at the conference - evangelicals, charismatics, and Prayer Book Anglicans - had their own agendas, but all affirmed Robinson’s statement. The Anglican Church had to renew its commitment...

    • 12 “The Footprints of Zion’s King”: Babtists in Canada to 1880
      (pp. 191-207)

      In I880 I.E. Bill, the aging Baptist revivalist, pastor, and historian, wrote that nowhere “in this wide world are the foot-prints of Zion’s King more distinctly seen than in the rise and progress of a vital Christianity, as associated with the origin and multiplication of Baptist Ministers and Churches in these Maritime Provinces.”¹ The triumphalist language reflected Bill’s satisfaction at almost eighty years of unprecedented growth and influence of Baptists especially in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The grass-roots evangelical impulse of the late eighteenth century had profoundly infused Maritime Baptists with the capacity to win converts and help shape...

    • 13 “Shelter from the Storm”: The Enduring Evangelical Impulse of Baptists in Canada, 1880s to 1990s
      (pp. 208-222)

      In 1880 I E. Bill, a prominent Maritime Baptist, remarked that there was “a future for Baptists” in Canada, as they had “a past that has laid foundations broad and deep upon which to build.”¹ This over-optimistic view reflected the Baptists’ steady growth during their first hundred years in what is now Canada; it was a growth energized by a flexible and evolving evangelicalism in which lay men and women occupied a nearly equal footing in the church. A firm commitment to their own brand of evangelical religion gave Canadian Baptists, they were certain, the spiritual strength to withstand the...

    • 14 Living with the Virus: The Enigma of Evangelicalism among Mennonites in Canada
      (pp. 223-240)

      The term “Mennonite” conjures up many images. Some associate it those who eschew modern technology by travelling in horse-drawn buggies. Older Canadians may remember press coverage of obstinate German-speaking settlers who allegedly refused to bear arms during the two world wars. Other impressions have been formed by authors like Rudy Wiebe whose fiction depicts Prairie Mennonites. And some point towards humanitarian organizations like the Mennonite Central Committee as the quintessential portrait. A multitude of images could be added to this collage to portray the range of experiences, traditions, and beliefs that make up the history and identity of the approximately...

    • 15 Lutheranism and Evangelicalism: Travelling in the Same Circle of Influence
      (pp. 241-254)

      Lutherans have a special and prior claim to the term “evangelical,” even Canadian Lutherans have an aversion to being identified with the evangelical movement. Although historical connections are scarce,¹ Lutherans and evangelicals share some ideologies and perspectives. Furthermore, when Canadian Lutheran theologians have written about evangelicalism, they have displayed a certain naïveté regarding evangelicalism and how Lutheran theology may be related to it. This paper will establish those historic theological connections and show what Lutheranism and evangelicalism share and do not share, at least in the Canadian context.

      Lutherans, even Canadian Lutherans, are loathe to relinquish their claim on the...

    • 16 Sailing for the Shore: The Canadian Holiness Tradition
      (pp. 257-270)

      On 22 November 1903 Albert Mills wrote in his diary about a sermon he had just heard. Brother Armstrong, he said, first spoke about Secret Societies. “He then goes to the church question and shows how people have but the form of godliness and deny the power and so on. He says some people would rather stay with the sinking ship and pump water than get into the lifeboat and sail for the shore.”¹

      Mills was a member of a small band that a little more than a year before had organized a church called the Holiness Gospel Workers, later...

    • 17 Towords a Fourfold Gospel: A.B. Simpson, John Salmon, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada
      (pp. 271-288)

      Except for those touched in some way by A.B. Simpson’s writings or by the mission of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), few Americans or Canadians in the late twentieth century have either heard of or recognize their contributions to evangelical Christianity at all. Yet Simpson and the Alliance were prominent players in the world of late nineteenth-century revivalist evangelicalism. For those in the United States and Canada who joined the movement, the Alliance was a gathering of believers from all and no denominations to proclaim and celebrate Jesus Christ as “Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King.” Despite its relatively...

    • 18 Canadian Pentecostalism and the Evangelical Impulse
      (pp. 289-300)

      In 1994 Mark A. Noll argued inThe Scandal of the Evangelical Mindthat Pentecostalism has been one of three forces that have undermined evangelical intellectual life. In the same year Ralph Winter, the founder and president of the U.S. Center for World Missions, made the statement that “God is pentecostalizing the Church.”¹ These contrasting opinions draw attention to the place Pentecostalism occupies in the wider Christian community. An exploration of the relationship between Pentecostalism and Canadian evangelicalism illustrates the seriously convoluted experience of Canadian Pentecostalism within the evangelical community at large.

      Pentecostalism as a religious tradition arose in the...

    • 19 The Winnipeg Fundamentalist Network, 1910-1940: The Roots of Transdenominational Evangelicalism in Manitoba and Saskatchewan
      (pp. 303-319)

      Not long ago a pastor was reported to have warned his flock against falling away from the faith and getting involved in “sex, drugs, and fundamentalist sects.”¹ Whether or not one regards a “fundamentalist sect” as something as morally corrosive as free sex and illegal drugs, the terminology for the religious historian is certainly hazardous, or at least problematic. The dominance of the church-sect thesis in Canadian religious historiography, for example, has been challenged by John Stackhouse and replaced with a more nuanced portrait of evangelicalism. Stackhouse has also sought to direct attention away from fundamentalists like T.T. Shields and...

    • 20 “The Heavenly Railroad”: An Introduction to Crossley-Hunter Revivalism
      (pp. 320-336)

      Early in the winter of 1888 the thoughts of many Canadians turned to events unfolding in Ottawa’s Dominion Methodist Church. On 8 January the Methodist evangelistic team of Hugh T. Crossley and John E. Hunter - probably, in terms of converts made, the most successful Canadian evangelists ever - had opened six weeks of services in the building, an event that had been attended by the nation’s lapsed “Episcopalian” prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Frequenting regularly with “Governors, Senators, and members of Parliament,” Macdonald even celebrated his seventy-third birthday by appearing at the revival meeting.¹

      At the end of...

    • 21 “The World of the Common Man Is Filled with Religious Fervour”: The Labouring People of Winnipeg and the Persistence of Revivalism, 1914-1925
      (pp. 337-350)

      At the height of the Winnipeg General Strike, Rev. A.E. Smith, later a self-proclaimed communist, judged that the effectiveness of the gospel must come “from the people” and that it was the religion “of the multitude - the common people” which ultimately sustained the “Soul and Spirit of the Methodist Church.”² This characterization of the intense spirituality of the Canadian working class compels historians to re-evaluate the now almost standard assertion that Canadian workers abjured Christianity in favour of the theology of socialism and labour activism.³ Even non-Marxist historians of the Winnipeg General Strike have contended that the tenets of...

    • 22 The Transplanted Mission: The China Inland Mission and Canadian Evangelicalism
      (pp. 351-368)

      In 1888 Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) came to Toronto via the United States. Founder of the China Inland Mission (universally known as the CIM, now the Overseas Missionary Fellowship), Taylor was the most famous missionary of his day, a leader who exemplified the CIM nickname, “Constantly In Motion.” “We did not know what God was leading us to America for,” Taylor wrote, “though we felt we were following His leading.” When D.L. Moody suggested that he set up an American branch of the CIM “that might work as a feeder of men and money,” Taylor announced that it would be better...

    • 23 Evangelical Bible Colleges in Twentieth-Century Canada
      (pp. 369-384)

      In the virtual absence of seminaries and liberal arts colleges under conservative evangelical control until the 1960s, evangelicals in twentieth century Canada were typically trained in Bible institutes and colleges. And despite the dramatic development of evangelical seminaries and liberal arts colleges in Canada over the past three decades, Bible schools consistently remained the choice of the great majority of students enrolling in evangelical post-secondary institutions. When considering these facts, three questions come to mind. First, is it possible to demonstrate something of the magnitude of the influence of the Bible school movement upon Canadian evangelicalism? Second, how can that...

    • 24 “Canada’s Gift to the Sawdust Trail”: The Canadian Face of Aimee Semple McPherson
      (pp. 387-402)

      In Mount Forest, Ontario, in the summer of 1915, Aimee Semple McPherson quietly launched her evangelistic career. The occasion was an invitation to preach at the nondescript Victory Mission just off Main Street, a place so small that she laughingly dubbed it a “dolls’ church.” Ten years later, McPherson reigned supreme in the field. Her meteoric rise is generally understood as both mirror and product of southern California popular culture in the post-World War I era. Her contemporaries represented her as the “prima donna” of revivalism, a superb actress who easily provided the best show in show-obsessed southern California.¹ In...

    • 25 Beyond the Congregation: Women and Canadian Evangelicalism Reconsidered
      (pp. 403-416)

      For those interested in charting the contours of the Canadian evangelical experience, the last few years have been stimulating ones. A good deal of current scholarship has been due to the long-standing research interests of such celebrated and, frankly, pioneering historians as John Webster Grant and George Rawlyk. From Goldwin French’s 1968 article surveying “The Evangelical Creed in Canada” and Richard Allen’sThe Social Passionin 1971, little had been written in this province about evangelicalism until John Webster Grant’s important 1988 study of Ontario religion,A Profusion of Spires.¹Several works have since explored essential evangelical principles and behaviours,...

    • 26 The Awakened and the Spirit-Moved: The Religious Experiences of Canadian Evangelicals in the 1990s
      (pp. 417-432)

      The critically important role of intense religious experience in the birth and growth of the evangelical movement has been well documented, but the religious experiences of today’s evangelicals are not as well understood. To remedy this, an attempt has been made here to explore and map out the depth and rich texture of the religious experience of Canadian evangelicals. The picture that emerges suggests that religious experience is indeed central to Canadian evangelicalism in the 1990s - as it was during its formative “radical evangelical” phase.

      Evangelicalism sprang into life in the mid-eighteenth century, powered by religious awakenings and the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 433-524)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 525-530)
  13. Index
    (pp. 531-542)