Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is an Evangelical Anyway?

I came across Christianity Today’s subsidiary website “Books and Culture: a Christian Review” – a great (I mean really superb) collection of book reviews and articles about Christian books, articles and authors. John G. Stackhouse, Jr., is a fairly well known Canadian theologian, author and Christian apologist. He is Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. In a review of Ron Sider’s Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, he gives a helpful (although lengthy) description/definition of an Evangelical. He goes on to describe in the rest of the review that we (along with Ron Sider) are often scandalously fuzzy about what an Evangelical really is and what a Christian really is. This little description should help – well at least a little.

Evangelicals maintain Protestant orthodoxy: they believe what their various denominations have historically taught about Christian doctrine, with special emphasis on Christology and soteriology;

Evangelicals experience conversion: they might enjoy a particular dramatic moment, or they might undergo a long process punctuated by one or more crises, but they all personally commit themselves to Christ and then seek to be fully converted in the process of sanctification;

Evangelicals believe the Bible: they not only maintain classic Christian beliefs about it, but their piety is structured around it: in individual, family, group, and congregation study, in the centrality of preaching in public worship, and in the Bible's epistemological supremacy in all areas of life;

Evangelicals engage in mission: they view themselves as called by God to perform his will in every activity of life, and particularly in sharing the message of salvation with others and caring for their needs; and

Evangelicals recognize each other across denominational lines as kin: thus evangelicals cooperate in a wide range of organizations and activities to further the work of God beyond the reach of their respective congregation and denomination.

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