1. Meanings of the Term.
Evangelization is the announcement of the divine message of salvation and consequent awakening to saving faith (Matt. xi. 5; Acts xvi. 10, xvii. 18; Rom. x. 15; I Cor. i. 17; I Pet. i. 12). The agent is called an evangelist in the New Testament (see EVANGELIST). In the original sense evangelization was the mission work done on the basis of the universal testimony of the faithful and in the strength of a special grace. In a narrower sense since the time of the Waldensians and John Wyclif the word is employed to express the efforts to counteract and correct the declension during the Middle Ages from apostolic ideals of Christian living. Later the content of the word came to be the efforts made in the service of the Church as one of the blessings of the Protestant Reformation to preach the pure word of grace and to stimulate to higher individual and community life and to larger activity in Christian service. Another use of the word makes it express an unofficial activity, within the Evangelical national Churches, essentially related to the work of home missions. This article will deal with evangelization in the last two senses.
2. Evangelization in Roman Catholic Countries.
Evangelization as a reform has its area of operation in lands belonging to the Roman Catholic or Greek faiths or where either by Mohammedanism or a returning heathenism the Church has been overcome. In Italy the Waldensian Church is the central agent in evangelization, possessing seventeen parishes in the home valleys, forty-four church organizations, fifty-seven mission stations, several schools, a theological seminary, a union for promoting the spiritual and temporal well-being of scattered Waldensians, and an orphan asylum in Rome. The synod has also under its care three organizations of the Free Church in Milan, Bari, and Mottola. The Evangelical Church of Italy (formerly the Free Church) has existed since 1870 and reports twenty organizations and 119 preaching places. German Evangelical organizations are found in Venice, Milan, Florence, Naples, Genoa, Bologna, Rome (since 1820), San Remo, and elsewhere. The pastors have held since 1880 a yearly conference, and are for the most part under the direction of the Prussian Evangelical Council. The organizations in the different cities have local institutions of value, such as societies for men and for women, homes for young men, homes for the aged, for seamen, and the like. The Wesleyan Methodists have thirty-six organizations, the Methodist Episcopal Church (American) has twenty-eight, and the Old Catholic five. The British and Foreign Bible Society maintains thirty colporteurs, and the Evangelical Book and Tract Society in Italy is doing its peculiar work. In Spain and Portugal there are German Evangelical organizations in Lisbon, Barcelona, Malaga, and Amora, and the Anglican Church is represented in Madrid by a congregation having its own church. The work of the German Evangelical Church in Madrid is prospering and employing various agencies. The circulation of the Scriptures is proceeding rapidly. See ITALY; SPAIN; PORTUGAL; and for France, Belgium, Austria, and Hungary see the articles on those countries.
3. In Greco- Russian, Mohammedan, and Heathen Lands.
In Russia the work of evangelization is sternly repressed (cf. R. Krause, Ein Stück Kirchen- und Lebensgeschichte aus den deutsch-russischen Ostseeprovinzen, Gütersloh, 1893; H. Dalton, Der Stundismus in Russland, ib. 1896). In St. Petersburg the Evangelicals find more toleration and display considerable charitable activity. Pastoral work among the Lutheran communities in South Russia and the Caucasus is made difficult by the great distances. In the Balkans the Evangelical communities and interests need reenforcements. The Germans have a station at Belgrade, established in 1860, and at Sophia and Rustchuk there are also stations. Baptists have recently undertaken work in the region. In Rumania the Germans have nine stations, and in Turkey one in Constantinople and one in Salonika. In Greece since 1896 recognition has been granted to the Greek Evangelical Church. In Asia Minor, principally through American agencies, the old Armenian Church was aroused to new life. But because of this very activity and also in consequence of the reports concerning the existence of an Armenian revolutionary party, Mohammedan fanaticism has almost succeeded in annihilating the results (cf. J. Lepsius, Armenien and Europa, Berlin, 1896). Hope is entertained, however, that the Evangelical agencies, especially those of a charitable character will succeed in reinstating better conditions. In Palestine congregations of the German Evangelical Church are found in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jaffa; Haifa, and Beirut. The United Brethren are also active there, while asylums, hospitals, and schools are employed effectively. Egypt is occupied by agencies from England and Germany. The Presbyterian Church and the German Evangelicals are active in Brazil and work is carried on also in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela. See the articles on the countries named.
4. Local Societies in or beside the Churches.
Even within the Protestant Churches there come lapses from faith and a declension of ethical standards; new zeal then develops in the membership, and organizations outside of the regular ecclesiastical agencies, having an Evangelical character, come into existence. Out of German Pietism arose societies of a charitable sort having as their object the saving of abandoned children and the dissemination of the Scriptures and of Christian literature. Preaching by laymen of the standing of Zinzendorf, Tersteegen, Bogatzky, and M. Hahn, drawing largely from the inspiration of Reformation sources, has had a large influence upon the quickening of Christian life, and also upon the development of the "Innere Mission." English Methodism is an example of a kind of evangelization which was carried on outside the agencies regularly employed, working through such means as Sunday Schools, city missions, and itinerant preaching. Another example of the same kind is the "Innere Mission" of Germany, seconding the regular work of the established churches (see INNERE MISSION). Local societies have also engaged in special work in their own fields in Stuttgart, Basel, Baden, Elberfeld, and other places. In Norway the peasant H. N. Hague (q.v.) was instrumental in forming a society for carrying on work of this character in France, where evangelists, preachers, and colporteurs were maintained for a number of years. In Holland for fifty years the "Netherland Protestant Union" worked in concert with the Reformed Church of that country. In France the McAll Mission (q.v.) has accomplished work not merely in Paris but throughout France in stimulating the sending of preachers, Bible-women, and teachers to some fifty-seven places. The work of Moody and Sankey and of Pearsall Smith are not to be forgotten. Emulation of the Methodist methods of working aroused in Germany such men as Ziemann, Baedeker and Von Schlumbach to labors of the same kind. As a result of the appeal of Dr. Christlieb Evangelical societies were organized in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden for the appointment of lay evangelists whose work should be the stimulation of the Church to new life in the matter of saving souls. Similar results followed in Germany, and institutes for the training of men for the work were founded.
5. The Movement in Germany.
In Germany the growing importance of this kind of labor stimulated the Central Committee of the "Innere Mission" in 1888 to take council with its friends and supporters concerning the Evangelical activity of laymen in the kingdom of God, its need, and its limitations. The conclusion was reached that, in view of the fact that large numbers of the people are not reached by the ordinary ministrations of the Church, there is necessitated an extraordinary method not bound by the usual limitations under which ecclesiastical operations are conducted. In case ordinary methods are not suited to any particular need, the matter shall not go by default by deferring to the usual agencies. While regularly trained candidates in theology are to be kept in mind for the propagation of such work, well-equipped laymen are not to be rejected, especially if their gifts are suited for the labor. Only experience can determine whether the institutions for training evangelists are suited for the development of this kind of activity. At any rate, such institutions must be under official supervision. Evangelical operations are not, as a rule, to be regarded as anything but the response to a special need. The regular agencies of the Gospel are to be stimulated, not dwarfed into inactivity. Meanwhile the movement has been widely extended. In official gatherings of the churches the question has been discussed what should be the attitude toward the unofficial and free attempts to evangelize. The Conference of Pastors of the Lower Rhine district in 1894, the Saxon Union for the Innere Mission in 1894-95, the Sleswick-Holstein Union, the Eisenach Conference in 1896, and the General Synod of 1897 have all discussed various phases of the question. The good results often flowing from these methods of free evangelization have been recognized and the acknowledgment made that reenforcement should be added. To the officials of the Church in their own departments these recommendations have been made for appropriate action in the prosecution of their labor.
(P. RAHLENBECK. )