Saturday, January 01, 2011

I Once Was an "Evangelical"

"There's no such thing as 'evangelical Christianity'." So reasons Timothy Beal's essay "Among the Evangelicals," in this month's Chronicle of Higher Education.

I don't doubt it. It's a word I rarely use, since it has no meaning to most of the people I interact with. It was an idea I once thought helpful, but no longer.

On the term 'evangelicalism' Beal writes: "The term represents a broad range of significantly different theologies, practices, and religious movements within Christianity, and there are often tensions among and within them. Which is no revelation at all to most more-or-less insiders, who call themselves evangelicals, however qualified, and who argue as much with others who do the same as with those of us who don't."

I agree. This is no revelation to me. If evangelism was a core idea of evangelicalism, I still hold to that. Hopefully I've grown in that area in both understanding and effectiveness. I have found, for example, that "sozo" is a huge and wonderful word, bigger and greater than I ever imagined or was initially taught. Hermeneutically I'm looking at Jesus before Paul, which is the opposite of my early theological training. I think "see Jesus through the eyes of Paul" was a part of my evangelical faith years ago. That's changed.

I believe in Jesus. God, in Jesus, has sozo-ed me. I love Jesus. I count myself as one of his (albeit imperfect) followers. I'm not certain that I need to find some other label to identify my allegiance.