A Symposium: Six Evangelicals Assess Their Movement
In this forum, a diverse group of Evangelicals discuss the state of Evangelicalism today and other matters. (We are planning to run similar forums on the Catholic, Orthodox, and mainline churches in the next year.) The answers begin with those of Russell Moore, as a member of our editorial board, followed by the others in alphabetical order.
How do you define "Evangelical" in a way that distinguishes Evangelicals from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several years?
Russell Moore: Several years ago, I found a book for those who "grew up born again." Like similar books for "cradle Catholics" and others, this book listed cultural artifacts of growing up in an Evangelical home.
The list is long, and I could expand it even more: the "Our Daily Bread" container of Bible verse flash cards on the table, the sparkly picture over one's bed of the angel ushering two children across a bridge, the fact that one knows how to respond to the sentence "God is good" with the words "all the time" and to fill in the blanks of the offertory prayer, "Dear Lord, bless the _____ and the _____" (it's "gift" and "giver" for those of you whose roots are in Geneva, Rome, or Constantinople rather than Wheaton or Nashville).
In many ways, that kind of cultural identity has replaced in some quarters the definition of Evangelical Christianity, at its best: the merger of Reformation confessionalism and revivalist conversionism. Evangelicalism is Protestant, and thoroughly so: The sola statements of the Reformation represent how Evangelicals understand what it means to be centered upon Christ. Evangelicalism is also inexplicable apart from a sense of Great Commission urgency to seek and save that which is lost.
The definition has indeed changed over the past half-century. What would have been considered non-negotiable for Evangelical identity fifty years ago (the truthfulness of Scripture, the impossibility of salvation apart from faith in Christ) is now often considered "Fundamentalist."
Read the entire article on the Touchstone Magazine website (new window will open).