Thursday, June 17, 2010
What is an Evangelical?
"Evangelicalism is dead . . . Evangelical Christians no longer believe the Bible. Their real religion is Equality, which trumps their so called biblical convictions." (white supremacist radio talk show host James Edwards)
Over the past decade, I have heard and read that the team "Evangelical" referred to Protestants with a severe affinity for the gospel and Jesus. This was the team that held a high view of Scripture, the death & resurrection of Jesus, proclaimation of the gospel message, and the evidence of one's conversion (being born again) through "faith & deeds."
However, nowadays, everyone from the likes of Brian McLaren, Erwin McManus, John MacArthur, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Elmer Towns, Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Smith, T.D. Jakes all apparently fall within this team. Nowadays, things are just not that simple anymore. Complicated? Quasi-neo-liberal social gospel-ites, open theists, prosperity gospel-types (with the lower case "g"), free will advocates, Calvinists, inclusive "warm fuzzy" inter-faith dialoguers, far right, far left, pro choice, pro life, same sex marriage advocate, traditional marriage advocate . . . the team doesn't seem to be on team anymore. Back in the day when Billy Graham started preaching, the team was simple and the lines were clear - today, the team is no longer a team but still tries to maintain the name, the theological lines are deeper and depending on which sub-team you are on - the lines may or may not be clear but "unattainable" and mysterious.
Is there such thing as loyalty to a team? In fact, does a "statement of faith" matter or hold worth in such an era as ours? One seminary boasts being "inclusive" while another boasts "biblical fidelity" ~ whether we like it or not, their clones have gone viral and the "evangelical community" will suffer. How does this play out theologically, missiologically and ecclesiologically? Shot gun blast, nuclear fallout, sniper round, cruise missile, chemical warfare, or the largest conventional weapon available post-cold war "a bunker buster"? Whatever we dump in the "front end" will come out the "back end" ~ we need to closely monitor and evaluate the "back end" damage.
When a white supremacist has a better take on the team, God have mercy on us all.