Sunday, June 27, 2010

Label #5: EVANGELICAL

Over at the Theological Word of the Day website there is a helpful definition of the next label I’d like to address. Their definition of “Evangelical” is one who would “identify with historic Protestantism and are committed to 1) the necessity of conversion to Christ, 2) the authority of Scripture, 3) the spread of the Gospel message, 4) a belief in the Five Solas of the Reformation, 5) a belief in the Nicene Creed and Chalcedonian statement of faith.” We should at least be willing to be labeled Evangelicals.

The label has come to be synonymous with the Fundamentalism and political activism of people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. I’m not willing to be cast into that camp nor am I willing to concede the label to such a narrowly defined group of ideologues. Larry Eskridge of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals summarizes this label in four convictions. Evangelicals have a conviction for the need for personal conversion or being “born again”. They have a conviction to spread or share the gospel with other people. They have a conviction for the authority of the written Word of God- the Bible. Finally they have a conviction on the historicity of the literal death and resurrection of Jesus. Based on these convictions I’m happy to be labeled an Evangelical Christian and will lead my church as an Evangelical church.

This is a broad label but is distinguishes us from Roman Catholicism (though there are some Evangelical Catholics) and from liberal Protestantism. So what’s the point of even embracing these convictions as a label? The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is a cross-denominational association of pastors and church leaders who purpose is “to call the Church, amidst a dying culture, to repent of its worldliness, to recover and confess the truth of God’s Word as did the reformers, and to see that truth embodied in doctrine, worship, and life.” The label, like the mission of the A.C.E. draws a necessary line in the sand regarding Biblical conviction and proclamation.

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