Evangelical is a very capacious term, and both scholars and conservative Protestants themselves struggle to define the boundaries of this religious community. Some people apply the term to groups as divergent as Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, and more conservative branches of Methodism, Lutheranism, and Pres-byterianism. Complicating this definition, however, is the reality that not all of the members of each of these groups would self-identify as evangelicals. In general, several key beliefs and practices tend to characterize evangelical cultures. To begin with, a profound conversion experience, often called a “born again” experience, refers to the belief that lives must be transformed through a direct relationship with Jesus Christ. Evangelicals understand themselves to have a “great commission” to spreading the message of Jesus Christ, and ...

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