“In fact, since the benchmark Immigration Act of 1965, Hispanic and Asian American immigrants have quietly contributed several million new adherents to the evangelical movement.  Anglo Americans are largely unaware of the massive scale of this development and have yet to offer much in the way of outreach to (or with) these brothers and sisters in the gospel…Nonetheless, theirs will likely be the next major chapter in the ongoing adventure of evangelicals in America, which has always been a multicultural nation of immigrants.”
Douglas Sweeney, The American Evangelical Story (2005)

This year, we are illustrating our aspirations for AsianAmericanChristian.org.
In September, we looked at how Christian world history has been taught and revised.
In October, we have been looking at Christianity in America and Asian American Christians.

This is just a taste of what AsianAmericanChristian.org would like to do in the future.  It is glaringly uncomprehensive.  The history of American evangelicalism nascent, and even more so the history of Asian American evangelicalism.

78.4% adult Americans self-identify as Christian
51.3% adult Americans are Protestant
A brief sketch on Protestantism in America (forthcoming)
Protestant Christianity and Evangelicalism are practically synonymous in America until the 1880s.

26.3% adult Americans are part of Evangelical Churches

 

“Evangelicalism” re-emerged in popular use in the 1950s with the rise of “neo-Evangelicals” like Billy Graham.

Wishing to recast fundamentalist Protestantism, Graham and many others called America back to their “Christian roots,” a revivalist evangelicalism tracing back to the Awakenings that begun in the 1730s that launched the “righteous empire” of voluntary societies that are the precursors of today’s nonprofits and governmental social service agencies.

  • A brief summary of Douglas Sweeney’s The American Evangelical Story (2005)
  • A chapter-by-chapter summary of The American Evangelical Story (2005)  (forthcoming)
    • Sweeney’s main point:  Since its very beginnings in the eighteenth century, the diversity of the evangelical movement—in denomination, in class, in geography—has made it prone to splinter, and even more remarkably, to overcome these differences and unite in mission to spread an orthodox Protestant gospel together.
    • American evangelicalism is not without its flaws.
      • Slaves were discouraged to become Christians and were not really evangelized until the Great Awakening.
        • Slaves became Christian in droves, and their legacy includes 7 historic black church denominations.
      • Ongoing accommodation to slavery and racism by most revivalists—even by Billy Graham until 1954—set lingering patterns that affect evangelicalism today.
        • This is why most African Americans do not consider themselves evangelical, though many definitions of evangelical would include them.
      • Missionaries too have made mistakes as its critics have “complained…[of] imperialistic methods and…racist views”
        • Generally, this has led Mainline churches to focus on social concerns and evangelical churches to focus on contextualization.
        • This affects how evangelicals work with Asian American evangelicals today.

          “Anglo Americans are largely unaware of the massive scale of [the growth of Hispanic and Asian American churches since 1965] and have yet to offer much in the way of outreach to (or with) these brothers and sisters in the gospel.”

Asian American evangelicalism has barely been studied:  academic research has been mostly sociological and piecemeal.

Because a comprehensive history and other research has yet to be done, and because Asian American evangelicals have yet to be brought together, we did our best given the limitations of our current networks.

  • We summarized main Asian American evangelical happenings here in this chart 
  • We asked Tim Tseng, a rare historian of Asian American Christians, to give us a non-scholarly working overview.  
    • We were “orientals.”
      • Before the 1960s, almost every major denomination had an “Orientals in America” program,  lumping them together as a collective mission effort.  Except for the Japanese because there were so many of them.
      • In the 1950s, as neo-evangelicals like Billy Graham rose in prominence, Asian Americans too formed their own organizations to counter unhealthy liberal theological influences, like JEMS (Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society, 1950), and Chinese Bible Churches that began to emerge in the 1960s.
    • English speaking Asian American ministries has growing in response to rising second generation numbers.
      • In the 1970s, the first mainline second generation Asian Americans are coming of age.  These leaders began to organize ethnic caucauses within denominations and evangelical parachurch organizations like InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ and JEMS’ Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF)
      • In the 1980s in California, there are enough second generation Asian Americans to form their own English speaking churches.  In 1981, Ken Fong at Evergreen Baptist Church and in 1983, Wayne Ogimachi at Christian Layman Church begin to minister with this vision.  Prior to this all Asian American churches were Chinese or Korean or and primarily focused on first generation immigrants.
    • Korean Americans dominate many denominational, ecumenical and parachurch institutions because they go in theological education more than other Asian Americans.
  • We asked Tim Tseng, the rare historian and current pastor to help us how knowing history helped him
    • “How could I adequately participate in God’s kingdom movement without a good understanding of my identity?”

 

November 25: Asian America and Asian American Christians
How most Asian Americans got to America, how most of us became Christian, and what we make of Asian American Studies.

 

 

 

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