Though still relatively young, I would like to think that I’ve grown and matured in my understanding and perspective on faith, theology and culture. I went through a phase in my life a few years ago when I was extremely particular about the views with which I associated myself. I wanted to make sure I was abundantly clear in not just affirming what I believed to be true (e.g. amillennialism), but also emphatically condemning what I opposed (premillennialism, dispensationalism, postmillennialism, pan-millennialism, etc.). As is typically the case with those whose primary epistemic purpose is the condemnation of opposing views, I at times condemned and excluded the people who held those views.
One of the casualties of this attitude was “evangelical.” Certainly there were good things meant by the term that I could affirm (such as Joe listed below), and there were many great men and women who could be described by it. But in my theological high tower I could only see the bad examples- instances of shallow or questionable teaching, Jesus merchandising, and uncreative cheesy music. So I found myself looking down on the entire term, movement and group.
I’ve since been humbled- flung from the top of my high tower to a place where I can see how secluded and dark a place it was. It was actually nothing more than a soap box, and one that cut me off from experiencing some of the beautiful richness that is found in the diversity of Christ’s body. I used to see that diversity as a weakness, but it is actually one of the strengths of “evangelical,” and Christianity in general. I’ve come to see the definition of evangelicalism as the uniting of Christians with various theological and cultural backgrounds for the common purpose of proclaiming the good news of Jesus, their savior. Jesus the Christ is the root cause of our unity and proclaiming Him is our motivational purpose. And in proclaiming Him we exemplify the unity to which He has called us.
Last week Google posted a blog about how to manage your online reputation. One of their recommendations is to proactively publish positive information about yourself. This is one of the reasons I’m excited about this new blog. Instead of complaining about what errors may inhabit evangelicalism today, we’re making an effort to recapture “evangelical” as a positive word. One that describes the rich diversity of Christ’s body and the power of the good news, as the term was intended to do. I’m deeply honored to be apart of this project with so many great brothers and sisters in Christ.