Guest / Limited Access /
Wherever true Christianity spreads, it must cause diligence and frugality, which, in the natural course of things, must beget riches! And riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is destructive of Christianity. Now, if there be no way to prevent this, Christianity is inconsistent with itself and, of consequence, cannot stand, cannot continue long among any people; since, wherever it generally prevails, it saps its own foundation.

John Wesley preached this sermon in Dublin in 1789. Transport him forward through time to the parking lot of a gleaming glass and steel megachurch, amidst the BMWs and SUVs, and it's not hard to imagine him standing on the bed of a rusty pickup truck, preaching the same sermon. Is Wesley, then, a prophet for our times? Does this sermon encapsulate the story of North American evangelicalism?

At the beginning of the 20th century, evangelicalism gave up much of its wealth and social status so that it could be more faithful to the gospel. A century later, North American evangelicalism has recouped its lost wealth, and then some. In most American neighborhoods today, nearly all the new large church buildings have been built by evangelicals. The new wealth of evangelicalism is even more pronounced in the parachurch world. The largest charitable organization in the nation—with an annual budget of over $2 billion—is the Salvation Army, a unique combination of holiness denomination and parachurch agency devoted to human services. Of the nine largest parachurch organizations in the U.S. devoted to spreading the gospel, eight are evangelical, with combined 1998 budgets of $729 million. Of the seven largest communications media agencies, six are evangelical, with total ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
When Burkett Speaks, Evangelicals Listen
How this former unbelieving electrical engineer became evangelicalism's financial answer man—and a look at the advice he gives.
RecommendedThe World Is Yearning for Beautiful Orthodoxy
Subscriber Access Only The World Is Yearning for Beautiful Orthodoxy
Goodness, truth, and beauty all come from the same Person.
TrendingSpeak Truth to Trump
Speak Truth to Trump
Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump's blatant immorality.
Editor's PickThe Best Ways to Help the Poor
The Best Ways to Help the Poor
A new book, building on three classics, fills out the picture.
Christianity Today
We're in the Money!
hide thisJune 12 June 12

In the Magazine

June 12, 2000

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.