Ask Someone How They Would Define ‘Evangelical…’

…and you will most likely hear a political reply.  Equally likely you will hear a negative reply.

We’re approaching another election cycle complete with polls, gaffs and non stop analysis by a voracious media. The definition of an “Evangelical” has shifted drastically in the last 30 years. It previously described a person who viewed the Bible as God’s Inspired Word, or as we call it around here, “The Authority.”  An Evangelical submitted her or his life to the way of Jesus, as revealed in both testaments.

Prior to that it meant someone who has good news to share.

I don’t think many people today hear the word “Evangelical” and automatically think, “good news.” I am evangelical by the old definition and by the oldest definition. I think I have discovered some really good news, or more accurately, I discovered that it discovered me.

For some time now that word has been hijacked by politics. Ironically, some of the politics that hijacked it are also my politics. But the tone almost never is. The tone, the fear mongering, the enemy language, the mocking. When you hear the word “Evangelical” connected to words like “vote” or “constituents” or connecting to polling data, you know the word has lost all its oomph. It is time for a new word.

Some folks coined the phrase “Red Letter Christians” and they focus primarily on the teachings of Jesus. I appreciate that effort, but find that God has so much to say in the other color letters of the Authority as well.

If someone asks me today if I am evangelical, I say no.  I am a follower of Jesus.  Perhaps what bothers me most is how few people bat an eyelid at the distinction. They understand. Evangelical means political voter block.  Follower of Jesus means follower of Jesus.

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