Monday, April 8, 2013

What Does It Mean To Be An Evangelical?

Brian LePort has begun an excellent discussion over at Near Emmaus on reasons behind one's choice to identify as Roman Catholic/Evangelical. Brian describes himself somewhat ambivalently as an "E/evangelical," characterizing evangelicalism as more of an ethos than a particular denominational affiliation. He has invited me to contribute a post from my newfound perspective as an Anabaptist/Mennonite, and I will be offering my thoughts sometime in the next few days.

I personally have great difficulty self-identifying as an evangelical, primarily because I feel that no clear definition of the term exists anymore. At one time, perhaps, evangelicalism was most readily identifiable as the Christianity of Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, and others. But no longer. Now, Christians from John Piper to Rob Bell self-identify as evangelicals—with such a diverse range of adherents, what are the commonalities that might contribute to a working definition of evangelicalism?

In what tradition do you feel most at home? Why do you choose to identify with your particular brand of Christianity, either Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox, etc.?


  1. I choose an Anabaptist stream... however, you can have an Anabaptist focus and still be Evangelical, Orthodox, etc... It's a matter of being characterized around following JEsus in the fullness of the revelation and not just in the soterological view... I'd suggest reading "The King Jesus Gospel" by McKnight as another way of looking at this view...

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Robert! I really like Scot McKnight.

      I agree that it's not really an either/or kind of question. I think Brian even mentions the possibility of being an "evangelical Roman Catholic." But the fact that the term can be tacked onto anything makes a working definition of "Evangelicalism" even more difficult to nail down.