Reclaiming Evangelicalism From the Abyss

I recon its fair to say that the term ‘Evangelical’ is pretty much on the nose these days – even amongst those who may have traditionally identified themselves as such in the past.

Most of that of course has to do with the current state of politics in the U.S. and the co-opting of that word to describe a particular voting demographic. ‘Evangelicals’ as a political group are now identified  more as right-wing, anti-abortion, pro-gun, and low/no taxes. Democrats are the anti-christ, Gay people should be treated according to the Old Testament, and President Obama is secretly plotting to bring in Islam as the national religion. OK OK, I know that sounds like a generalisation, but I’ve heard those descriptions used alongside the word ‘evangelical’ a number of times, you get the idea.

Then we have the vexed problem with prominent Christian leaders who identify as ‘evangelical’, coming out and supporting Donald Trump for President. The main reasons given all seem to revolve around some sort of ‘Hillary Clinton is worse’ justification. Some have even gone the extra step of openly working on the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile, the rest of the ‘evangelical’ world recoils in seeming horror, unable to understand why they have apparently attached their names and reputations to a candidate of this calibre. The word ‘evangelical’ has now become soiled in the eyes of many, both Christian and non-Christian alike.

For the record, I identify as ‘evangelical’, but by that term I mean this:

1) I believe in a triune God, who made the universe, “Everything you see, everything you don’t see”, as Eugene Peterson puts it.

2) I believe the Bible is divinely inspired, a truthful record in all its parts of God’s dealings with humanity. A book that is the work of many authors who were moved by the Spirit of God to record what they saw, heard and experienced. A book that remains the primary guide for Christians today.

3) I believe in Jesus Christ, the unique and only Son of God, fully human, fully divine.

4) I believe that all of us are broken from the effects of sin. Separated from a God who loves us, and unable to heal ourselves.

5) I believe that people can be restored, our brokenness redeeemed and our sin forgiven, not by earning it ourselves, but by placing our faith and trust in the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, on our behalf.

6) I believe that the life and teachings of Jesus are to form a pattern for Christians to follow.

7) I believe that Christians, in following Jesus, are to bear witness to his life, death, and resurrection to the world.

8) I believe that Christians are to behave with the same grace, integrity, and humility that Jesus displayed while he was here on earth.

9) I believe that Christians are called to articulate an alternative (sometimes prophetic) vision for society and community. I am beholden to none but Jesus and His Kingdom.

10) While I take seriously the Bible’s injunctions to live peaceably within society, I believe that my hope does not rest in political institutions or their leaders.

OK that’s a far from exhaustive list, and I’m very sure it could/would be said better by others. It’s not meant to be Luther’s 95 Theses. But what I want to say is that I think its time we reclaimed the word ‘evangelical’ from the pollsters and politicians. I think we’ve let them use that word (and us) in a way that is unacceptable, and a far cry from what it was meant to be used for. I’m tired of someone else identifying as ‘evangelical’, then witnessing the kind of attitudes and behaviour that are a long way from being anything Christian. I want the word ‘evangelical’ back where it should be, grounded in Jesus and the good news (euangellion) that comes with Him.

This is a word that has been stolen from us, I’m stealing it back.

About andy63

Auditorium/Facilities Manager at Kennedy Baptist College. Family man, Dockers Supporter, NFL and NBA tragic who loves the Red Bull Air Race and a good meal. A Christian who is grateful for grace and forgiveness and the fact that Jesus is alive.

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