Monday, August 16, 2010
There is a lot of buzz in certain blogs recently about evangelicalism in general and the title of Evangelical specifically. Roger Olson has a few recent entries addressing these issues and while I might agree on several points, I am hesitant to abandon what it is to be evangelical in the Christian missionary sense. I am evangelical. I am theologically conservative. Yet, like so many others I find a general disdain for what the media and secular world considers politically conservative evangelicalism. It does not match my political view (e.g. my Goldwater/Buckley brand of conservatism) nor does it set well with my conservative theology. As Olson and others have pointed out, the media and secular world brands evangelicalism with fundamentalism and the result is a hybrid animal that acceptably registers with a rather small sub-sect of Christendom. Nonetheless, the label evangelical as well as conservative ends up tainted for many of us. Having said that, I disagree with Olsen and others that we should relabel ourselves as something other than conservative evangelical or something similar. The phrases and terminology have been co-opted by a rather modern political movement whose time seems to have passed. Instead of abandoning the historical banner of the Protestant Reformation, that of Christian Evangelicalism, perhaps it is time to reclaim it and take it from the processes and institutions that have abused it for their purposes. Their zealotry is a stain upon their own fabric and not upon mine.
It is not only the secular world that is unduly influenced by such misappropriations. The Reformed camps have also latched onto the phrases, using them as derogatory and inferring some great theological sin. Evangelical has become a dirty name among such fellows not because of political leanings but because of opposition to their dogma. Evangelical has become a euphemism for non-Calvinist or non-Reformed or non-liberal or whatever label zealots would like to use. It is not limited to Evangelical. Even Christian has taken its toll with the recent Ann Rice foolishness. It is time to stop retreating. I am a Protestant, Evangelical, Conservative and most important, Christian. No disrepute should be attached to any of it and nether should it be pigeon holed into a sub-set that few of us entertain. The secular media does not have ownership of title Evangelical nor do the fundamentalists attempting to exert undue influence among our fellows.