Evangelical: One Word, Too Many Concepts

In the latest article on the amorphous term “evangelical,” Phil Johnson complains that “everybody seems to have their own concept of what it means.”

Is it about changing the world by good works?

A few years ago, best-selling author Rob Bell defined (to The Boston Globe) “evangelical” as a belief in working together for change in the world, caring for the environment, and extending generosity and kindness to the poor.

Is an “evangelical” someone who proclaims Jesus over Caesar?

And most recently, Rachel Held Evans, who has gained media attention for her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, defined the term as a follower of Jesus who is committed to proclaiming the good news that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.

Maybe the confusion is the fault of the secular media:

…”I think probably the greatest corruption of the term ‘evangelical’ has come in the past 20 years or so because as that term has been more and more used in the secular media, it’s become more and more associated with a political perspective and it never was intended to be a political point of view,” said Johnson.

Or, Johnson tells us, it could be self-inflicted confusion:

Too many evangelicals have become too focused on political issues and because we don’t teach doctrine anymore, we don’t proclaim the Gospel the way we should, the message the world hears from us is a political message.

Whatever the case, “evangelical” remains a word that is as hard to define as it is to replace.


Filed under Evangelicalism, Presbyterian Vocabulary

2 responses to “Evangelical: One Word, Too Many Concepts

  1. Reblogged this on Literate Comments and commented:
    Presbyterian Blues on the meaning of “evangelical”.

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