Thursday, 5 January 2017

Keeping The Name Evangelical

I've heard a few presentations recently where the speaker has suggested the term Evangelical is redundant as a word because it has lost all meaning. I understand that, in many ways I agree with it as its used to speak of charismatics who are in no sense evangelical in their theology but are united by a common experience with continuatists/charismatics who are. Similarly it can be used in the media to refer to church going people who like modern music. Most worrying for me is people like Steve Chalke who have abandoned an evangelical understanding of the Atonement, Scripture and Christian Ethics but want to keep the name Evangelical because they see themselves as "good news people".
So why do I want to keep the term?
Part of the reason is something similar to what a Church of England vicar said when I asked him how he could remain in the CofE, his reply was, well its our church, the creeds are ours not the liberals.
So similarly I want to keep the term because it truly applies to me rather than to the people it is misapplied too.
More importantly, its a biblical word, the word Gospel is an English word but the Greek word euangelion and its various forms point to the word evangelical, it sums up for me the message of Jesus which is the good message that evangelicals love.
It has historical precedence, it was a term used in derision of the first Protestants, the Lutherans. It speaks of their good message of faith without works through the saving work of Jesus in contradistinction to the Roman Catholic understanding that salvation is through Christ, a works righteousness and the words/ceremonies/church of Roman and the extra grace of the Saints.
Of course in the UK the word has been used in a variety of ways, in the C18th it was used of Anglicans whose theology was like the Whitefield's and the Wesleys. Only later applying to those with the belief in the New Birth and who held to a high view of Scripture. The term has been used slightly different in the UK than in the US but there is no some crossover.
However if I/we are going to keep the term as it has stretched beyond meaning we probably need to add words to it, I use conservative evangelical.
God Bless
Stephen <><

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