In fact what we call “evangelicalism” is made up of a vast number of different churches and organizations from around the world that are mostly disconnected with each other, even though they share a number of basic common features (notably, “biblicism,” “conversionism,” “crucicentrism,” and “activism,” as defined by David Bebbington). And if we start our thinking about “evangelicalism” by recognizing this fundamental diversity, that invites a second thought experiment: what if we thought first of “evangelicalism” in the light of its many majority world manifestations, instead of first through an American lens?
A helpful habit of mind for thinking clearly about “evangelicalism” as fundamentally a collection of diverse, but loosely related, phenomena is to think of it as analogous to a biological genus. The genus of mammals, for instance, includes wide varieties of species that share some essential identifying traits, but we are not in the habit of thinking of them as one thing. So we immediately recognize that in most respects it is a fallacy to generalize from the character of house cats to say what giraffes are like. So also it should be easy to see that it is a mistake attribute the characteristics of white Baptist Trump voters to prosperity gospel pentecostals in Kenya, or to confuse either with the attitudes of the evangelical Christian Union in Oxford.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.