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Its origins are usually traced to 1738, with various theological streams contributing to its foundation, including English Methodism, the Moravian Church (in particular its bishop Nicolaus Zinzendorf and his community at Herrnhut), and German Lutheran Pietism.Preeminently, John Wesley and other early Methodists were at the root of sparking this new movement during the First Great Awakening.Today, evangelicals are found across many Protestant branches, as well as in various denominations not subsumed to a specific branch.Among leaders and major figures of the evangelical Protestant movement were John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Graham, Harold John Ockenga, John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

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Into the 21st century, evangelical has continued in use as a synonym for (mainline) Protestant in continental Europe, and elsewhere.This is understood most commonly in terms of a substitutionary atonement, in which Christ died as a substitute for sinful humanity by taking on himself the guilt and punishment for sin.Activism describes the tendency toward active expression and sharing of the gospel in diverse ways that include preaching and social action.The United States has the largest concentration of evangelicals in the world; its community forms a quarter of the population, is politically important, and is based mostly in the Bible Belt.By the English Middle Ages, the term had expanded semantically to include not only the message, but also the New Testament which contained the message, as well as more specifically the Gospels, which portray the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

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