Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What Is an Evangelical?

Tony Jones discusses the shifting and contested definition of Evangelical at BeliefNet:

So I can see why Scot and others fight for the term "evangelical," against both the apathy towards that term of people like Rob and the popular use of the term in the media. Personally, I have never considered myself an evangelical, though many others do consider me one, but I can understand those who embrace that term and their loyalty to it.

Interestingly, Scot uses the following definition, taken from a book by evangelical scholars,

an evangelical is a Christian Protestant for whom the central ideas are the leading authority of Scripture, the necessity of personal conversion, the centrality of the death of Christ on the cross as a substitutionary atonement, and the importance of a life of active following Jesus, seen in such things as Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, and deeds of compassion and justice.
I've added italics around what I consider the most curious phrase. I get every other point, but does one really need to submit to an Anselmic interpretation of the crucifixion event to be an evangelical? That seems odd to me, since I know lots of Weslyans and Anabaptists who are fiercely evangelical, but think of the atonement through other lenses.

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