Since colonial days, evangelical Protestantism in America has been a movement of entrepreneurial development, both in church structure and in church life. Such development was shaped by evangelical theology, which is characterized by four central themes: the Bible as the primary source of religious authority, unmerited forgiveness for sin granted only through Jesus’ death and resurrection, an emphasis on a conversion experience, and a missionary zeal to see conversion effected in others. What evangelicalism deemphasizes is also important: the institutionalization and successive authority of a church or body of churches, tradition as a source of religious authority, and the saving power of external rituals rather than ecstatic experiences.
Evangelical churches have tended to organize themselves more entrepreneurially than their hierarchical brethren. If one parish church felt too constrained or too liberated by its denomination, or if it sensed a wrongheaded shift in theology at higher levels, it was free to leave. The history of American religion involves a litany of evangelical splinter groups—Campbellites, New Lights, Cumberland Presbyterians, primitive Baptists, Southern Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, Missouri Synod Lutherans, Orthodox Presbyterians, and more.
O pessoal do Acton deve ter algo a dizer.