Am I an evangelical?

Traditionally, the term evangelical referred to Christians who held to and emphasised the centrality of the gospel of Jesus in Christianity. No longer is this the case, a fact brought home for me as I was reading Evangelical Protestants: Looking for a Leader, an article in The Economist lamenting the lack of a suitable replacement for Billy Graham in representing what the author calls “evangelical protestantism”.

See how evangelical protestants are described:

[…] a movement whose focus is shifting from salvation to works. The people who brought America the Moral Majority have been replaced by a younger generation more interested in the environment, social justice and safe drinking water for developing countries.

[…] there is “Q”, an annual conference of 20-and 30-something evangelicals that focuses on soothing human suffering rather than preaching salvation. Nuclear disarmament and education reform were the hot topics at its meeting earlier this year.

If being an evangelical is about an emphasis on the gospel of grace, the need for repentance and faith in Christ and a commitment to the authority of the Bible, then I am an evangelical. If not, the label has for me reached the end of its useful life, for like the 14th century Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Bradwardine, the gospel has become “exceedingly sweet and gracious” to me and I should not wish anything to take its place.


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