I’m going to spend the next few posts defining what I think it means to be an evangelical Christian. I believe that this is a valuable exercise, as it allows me to outline where I’m coming from and to give us a level playing field. I regularly experience articles in the media, where they refer to different religious groups, but they don’t really explain what they mean by the terms they use. So… to avoid any sense of confusion that may arise on this blog, I’m going to take the opportunity to fill you in on where I’m coming from.
My definition might be slightly different from definitions used by others, but I will do my best to draw in other reference points where it makes sense to add credence to my arguments and to help clarify my explanations.
So, where am I coming from? Well… I am a Mennonite Evangelical Christian. Those three words all carry a great deal of meaning. There are stereotypes involved in each of them. I’ll use the next four posts to explain my take on the word “evangelical”.
I recently came across an interesting article that outlines what it means to be an Evangelical Christian. Many in the media have portrayed Evangelicals in a negative light. Fortunately, Evangelical is not a bad word. In fact, I’m happy to be an Evangelical. As Michael Davenport, the author of the article in question, points out, Evangelicals approach their faith in a manner that allows them to “participate creatively in modern society”. To Davenport, Evangelicals are reaching out to their peers, trying to share the good news of Jesus. In addition to the good news of Jesus’ death, which offers us salvation for our sins, this good news also outlines a way of life that benefits all of mankind. Just think of how much better the world would be if we all adopted the advice that Jesus gives us concerning how to live our lives. The world would be a much better place indeed if we followed his greatest commandment:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39
Evangelical is a word to describe an approach to faith, as opposed to describing a specific denomination. Davenport identifies four key features to the Evangelical approach. They are:
- acceptance of the authority of Scripture over all other documents and traditions;
- affirmation that, suddenly or gradually, individuals are transformed (”reborn”) into believers;
- belief that Jesus’ death and resurrection were historical facts, necessary for our new life; and
- commitment to prayer, discipleship, and faithful service to wider humanity.
Over the next few posts, I’m going to work through these four features. What do these features really mean to me? How do they influence my behaviour? What do they tell me about how I should be living? Most importantly, will embracing these four features bring me closer to God? I’m going to hazard a guess and say you betcha!