Wednesday, October 19, 2011


As you may know, I am uncomfortable with the Evangelical label. I often bristle when I or something I am associated with is labeled as "Evangelical." While I would describe my faith as historically evangelical, I do not subscribe to most of what is attributed to Evangelicalism today. I have sometimes suggested that we need a new label since this one has been hijacked.

And I am not alone.

Over at The Burner, Kurt Frederickson has described himself as an Evangelical that has been robbed. Here is some of what he has to say.

I am an evangelical. It defines the way I think (my orthodoxy), how I act (my orthopraxy), and how I relate to God, to others and my world (my orthopathy). This is a joyful and hopeful way of being a Christian. An evangelical loves God greatly, and seeks to serve others and bless the world. An evangelical is eager to engage in a community of faith that worships and encourages discipleship, and engages in mission around the world and in a neighborhood. This is that faith that is part of my heritage. This is the brand of Christianity that I have chosen. I am proud to be an evangelical.

But a crime has been committed. I am an evangelical, and I have been robbed.

American culture is eager to talk about religion, and this becomes very apparent as national politics heat up. In this cycle, I am hearing the term “evangelical” bantered around more frequently. Unfortunately this term is used to describe a wide range of people:

  • Those eager to decide who is in and who is out
  • Those who see God as stingy
  • Those who hold tightly to a strict set of doctrines and question anyone outside of their fenceposts
  • Those who are certain who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell
  • Those who ascribe to well defined and narrow moral and social values
  • Those who see evangelical as a synonym for Republican

I am proud to be an evangelical both theologically and genealogically, but the term has been hijacked.

You can read the whole article here.


  1. Totally and utterly agree.

    I used to proudly self-identify as an evangelical; not any longer.

    It’s not that I don’t consider myself an evangelical in the ‘proper’ sense, but that I don’t recognise how the term is often employed nowadays.

  2. It was good for my soul to read this. Maybe things will turn back around eventually and evangelicals may be known as generous, fervent, gracious people again. I'm holding out hope!


  3. The question is, were you robbed at gunpoint (as your image suggests) or did the I-used-to-call-myself-an-evangelicals allow the thieves to take what they wanted? Was this a mugging or did the reasonable people give away the family silver?
    I recommend "Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity " by Bawer.

  4. Thanks Peter! I think it is a bit of both. We gave the silver to those who were already burglaring the house. I will check out the book.

  5. It is a book written in the mid 1990s for a lay audience. The part of Baewer's thesis/observations I found particularly interesting (and relevant to your post) had to do with the way so much of the Church allowed fundamentalists to take ownership of the term "Christian." "Christian bookstore," "Christian Family Center" etc. They have been "so successful that when many Americans today hear the word Christianity, they think only of the legalistic variety. The main stream media in covering the so called culture wars, generally imply that there are only two sides to choose from: the God-of-wrath christian Right and the godless secular left." (Bawer,11).

    Bawer, a feisty gay liberal Episcopalian, wants to reclaim the name Christian for the rest of us. Of course there is more at stake with the name Christian than the label "evangelical." But perhaps it is worth reclaiming.

  6. I also refuse to self-identify as an evangelical. The word today is used by people who used to be identified as fundamentalists, and evangelicalism, has come to mean fundamentalism. Evangelicals today have many resemblances to islamic fundamentalists. And if it keeps going the way the religious right wants it, I will next, will have to repudiate the word (though not the faith) "Christian." I am close to that now.
    For now, I think of myself as a "follower of Jesus".

  7. Drane, I too have been using "Christ follower" to describe who I am. This seems to be the best description for those who are called to "follow me," as Jesus said.