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March 28, 2006

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ash

your comments are restricted to members only... so i've registered.

I like the little images for the Baptist 'statement of belonging' (seems the closest definition i can think of)... It makes it more interesting.

I've found recently that noone really knows what 'evangelical' means. Any time I attempt a definition, half the evangelicals I know don't fit into it (or don't want to). I've met Southern Baptists from America and Charismatics from Toronto, and their ecclesiology is very different.

My Southern Baptist friend's church recently had a more charismatic service... This did not appeal much to many in the congregation. It seems odd that these two very different churches would be bunched together under 'evangelical' label.

Evangelical doesn't mean much anymore, because those who come under it are too varied.

I don't consider myself Evangelical, nor do I find much attraction with Liberalism. I'm far happier to call myself an Anglican.

Eric Beach

Andy - I think I see where you are coming from and I have to agree that I too have qualms about identifying myself as an evangelical for the same reasons that you do.

I wonder if it has something to do with our Anglican roots - an appreciation perhaps that the narrow dogmatism and legalism of some evagelicals is all a little harsh and uncaring - or maybe there is an appreciation that there is more to life and our appreciation of God than can be found under the label 'evangelical'.

Anyway I'm glad to hear that there isn't any great theological disagreement about the content and that it is more about the attitudes and baggage that goes with the title. Maybe we should just stick with "Christian"!

Eric

brodie

I'm with you on this one Andy. I think historically our cousins over the water in the USA have used the term Evangelical differently from us in the UK. I get the sense that in the past we used it more loosely, if you were evangelical you believed in the Bible, Jesus as Lord, that the Gospel was important. I think we've now gone a long way down the American road whereby the term Evangelical is being used to describe a bunch of people who subscribe to a narrow set of propositional doctrinal statements.

Caroline

Just been guided here by Maggi Dawn and totally resonate with your thoughts. There is a sense in which I feel angry that organisations like the EA and Reform (the anti gay lobby) have stolen my faith from me. I want to hold faithful to the tradition that introduced me to Jesus, and I want to follow him and I still find that much within evangelicalism is health promoting. But I don't want to be categorised with that crowd (or Christian Voice)

Now the the label Christian...

that too has been cluttered with unhelpful baggage, sigh what am we to do?

Tom Allen

What is perhaps more revealing is the increasing secular use of the adjective "evangelical" which means to be irrationally enthusiastic about something - hence expert on climate change on the radio this morning saying " I don't want to sound evangelical about this but . . .". In Church terms there is a big difference between the US and UK: in the states "evangelical" is a denominational noun, while in the UK it is a adjective which qualifies a denominational noun.In the UK it is interesting how within the Church of England it is drifting towards the US mode, partly because most of the Church of England including anglo-catholics are becoming more evangelical - recovering the importance of Jesus, committed to evangelism, focusing more on the Scriptures.

andy goodliff

Thanks for all comments so far. Some further reflections are the claim that evangelicals are more committed to the scriptures than 'liberals'. This is a falsehood, Christians who are non-evangelical are just as committed to scripture, just not to the often narrow and literalistic reading that many evangelicals have.

Evangelical and evangelicism now have associated stereotypes, which I don't want to be connected with.

Evangelical theology often stops a conversation when it goes beyond certain pre-determined boundaries, which I think partly reflects those who are increasingly have a 'churchless faith' (to borrow alan jamieson's term)

Andrew

What an interesting blog and comment. 20 years ago they would have proverbially burned you at the stake for comments such as these but now most won't because what you say is correct... evangelicalism means less and less these days. Here in Oz I also notice that the Pentecostals describe themsevles as evangelicals- probably to look more socially OK. How sad that evangelical means socially conservative if we understand our roots... Wesley, Booth, etc.

But I also think that the title is less and less meaningful because it was created to describe a Biblical position in light of science/modernity which is now 'out of date'. Both liberalism and evangelicalism were responces to the encroachments of modernity on the previously unquestioned place of the Bible and the church. Their best definitions wshould include their polarity with each other. When churches want to cling onto titles like that most of the unspoken debate is about saying what they aren't and that they wish they could reverse the clock 50 0r 100 years. Good luck Andy.

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