An association formed (1846) at London to unite evangelical Protestants on the basis of their common doctrines; it originated as a reaction to the growth of the oxford movement within the Church of England and the conversion of John Henry newman and other leaders to Catholicism. John A. James, pastor of a London Congregationalist church, is credited with having originated the idea of a union of individual Christians on Reformation principles, but Edward Bickersteth, an evangelical Church of England minister long active in the Church Mission Society, became its chief architect. In 1845, after preliminary meetings at Glasgow, Manchester, and London, a Conference on Christian Union was held at Liverpool. The organizational meeting at London in August 1846 was attended by 800 delegates representing 50 separate churches in Europe and America. Friedrich Tholuck of Halle, Adolphe Monod, and the historian J. H. Merle d'aubignÉ were the most influential representatives of Continental Protestantism. The large American delegation included Lyman beecher, Samuel H. Cox, and Samuel S. schmucker, the chief promoter of the Alliance in the U.S. Division over the issue of slavery in America presented one of the meeting's few jarring notes. Agreement on a series of doctrinal propositions was reached, expressing belief in the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Scriptures; private judgment; the unity and Trinity of God; the utter depravity of human nature; the Incarnation, atonement, and mediatorial intercession of Christ; justification by faith alone; the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion; the immortality of the soul; and the divine institution of the Christian ministry, baptism, and the Lord's Supper. Merle d'Aubigné addressed the first conference on the persecution of Lutherans in Russia and later conferences took a leading part in obtaining relief for Protestants in Italy and Spain, for Methodists and Baptists in Sweden, and for Armenian Christians and other victims of intolerance. The Alliance also promoted a week of prayer for Christian unity in January. World conferences were held periodically in Europe and in 1873 at New York.
The composition of the American branch tended to reflect the Presbyterian and Reformed heritage more than other denominational beliefs, and Philip schaff played an important role in its development after the Civil War. He was chiefly responsible for the organization (1867) of the Evangelical Alliance for the U.S., being one of its
dominant figures until his death in 1893. Josiah Strong became the executive secretary of the American branch in 1885 and played an important part in focusing its attention on the problems of urban America. National conferences held at Washington in 1887 and at Boston in 1889 dealt with the problems of the unchurched masses, immigration, and social justice. Strong's effort to make the Alliance a vehicle for the social gospel proved to be unsuccessful and resulted in his resignation in 1898. The Alliance provided the groundwork for the Federal Council of Churches in the U.S. and was superseded by it in 1908 (see national council of the churches of christ in the u.s.a.).
The World's Evangelical Alliance commemorated its centenary at London in 1946. It continues to be active in Great Britain as a fellowship of evangelical churches dedicated to Christian renewal and ecumenism on a doctrinal basis. Annual reports assess the work of British Evangelicalism, and annual conferences promote evangelical renewal.
Bibliography: Evangelical Alliance, Report of the Proceedings of the Conference held at Freemasons' Hall (London 1847). s. s. schmucker, True Unity of Christ's Church (New York 1870); The Church of the Redeemer (Philadelphia 1867). d. s. schaff, The Life of Philip Schaff (New York 1897). Evangelical Alliance for U.S.A., National Perils and Opportunities (New York 1887); National Needs and Remedies (New York 1890). r. rouse and s. c. neill, eds., A History of the Ecumenical Movement, 1517–1948 (Philadelphia 1954).
[r. k. macmaster/eds.]
EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE, one of the earliest attempts to bring about cooperation between the various Protestant denominations. Although founded in London in 1846, the alliance did not take root in America until Philip Schaff and Samuel S. Schmucker helped to organize a branch in 1867. Important international conferences of the alliance were held in New York in 1873; Washington, D.C., in 1887; and at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. By 1900, the influence of the Evangelical Alliance was waning in America and, in 1908, was replaced by the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America.
William W.Sweet/a. r.
Evangelical Alliance (ēvănjĕl´Ĭkəl), an association of Evangelical Christians in a union, not of churches, but of individuals belonging to different denominations and different countries. It was formed to give evidence of the unity existing among Evangelical believers and to advance such unity. The Alliance was founded in 1846 in London, at a conference in which some 50 denominations were represented by several hundred clergymen and laymen, gathered from many parts of the world. Branches have been organized in various countries. An American branch was established in 1867. In 1908 the American Alliance was replaced by the Federal Council of Churches, which was superseded in 1950 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. The largest association is the one first formed in Great Britain, which in 1923 became known as the World's Evangelical Alliance.
See A. J. Arnold, History of the Evangelical Alliance (1897); J. W. Ewing, Goodly Fellowship: A Centenary Tribute to the Life and Work of the World's Evangelical Alliance,1846–1946 (1946).