1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Evangelical Alliance

EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE, an association of individual Christians of different denominations formed in London in August 1846, at a conference of over 900 clergymen and laymen from all parts of the world, and representing upwards of fifty sections of the Protestant church. The idea originated in Scotland in the preceding year, and was intended “to associate and concentrate the strength of an enlightened Protestantism against the encroachments of popery and Puseyism, and to promote the interests of a scriptural Christianity,” as well as to combat religious indifference. A preliminary meeting was held at Liverpool in October 1845. The movement obtained wide support in other countries, more especially in America, and organizations in connexion with it now exist in the different capitals throughout the world. The object of the alliance, according to a resolution of the first conference, is “to enable Christians to realize in themselves and to exhibit to others that a living and everlasting union binds all true believers together in the fellowship of the church.” At the same conference the following nine points were adopted as the basis of the alliance: “Evangelical views in regard to the divine inspiration, authority and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures; the right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; the unity of the Godhead and the Trinity of persons therein; the utter depravity of human nature in consequence of the fall; the incarnation of the Son of God, His work of atonement for sinners of mankind, and His mediatorial intercession and reign; the justification of the sinner by faith alone; the work of the Holy Spirit in the conversion and sanctification of the sinner; the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the judgment of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, with the eternal blessedness of the righteous and the eternal punishment of the wicked; the divine institution of the Christian ministry, and the obligations and perpetuity of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper,” it being understood, however, (1) that such a summary “is not to be regarded in any formal or ecclesiastical sense as a creed or confession,” and (2) that “the selection of certain tenets, with the omission of others, is not to be held as implying that the former constitute the whole body of important truth, or that the latter are unimportant.”

Annual conferences of branches of the alliance are held in England, America and several continental countries; and it is provided that a general conference, including representatives of the whole alliance, be held every seventh year, or oftener if it be deemed necessary. Such conferences have been held in London in 1851; Paris, 1855; Berlin, 1857; Geneva, 1861; Amsterdam, 1867; New York, 1873; Basel, 1879; Copenhagen, 1885; Florence, 1891; London, 1896 and 1907. They are occupied with the discussion of the “best methods of counteracting infidelity, Romanism and ritualism, and the desecration of the Lord’s Day,” and of furthering the positive objects of the alliance. The latter are sometimes stated as follows: (a) “The world girdled by prayer”; a world-wide week of prayer is held annually, beginning on the first Sunday in the year, (b) “The maintenance of religious liberty throughout the world.” (c) “The relief of persecuted Christians in all parts”; the alliance has agents in many countries to help the persecuted by distributing relief, &c., and in Russia there is a travelling agent who endeavours to help the Stundists. (d) “The manifestation of the unity of all believers and the upholding of the evangelical faith.”

The following publications may be mentioned:—The Evangelical Alliance Monthly Intelligencer, The Evangelical Alliance Quarterly, both published in London; A. J. Arnold, History of the Evangelical Alliance (London, 1897); and the reports of the proceedings of the different conferences.