Posted by: Terry | March 1, 2016

I am evangelical but not AN Evangelical

My friend Tim could do a much better job of explaining the difference between an adjective and a noun than I can, but here goes my attempt. Wikipedia says that, “An adjective is a describing word.” A noun is a thing, a label if you would.

In my heart I am evangelical, historically it described some basic truths that I still hold dear. It has never been precise, and sadly the variations are what people like to debate, in so doing they obscure some simple elements, a tendency we excel at as humans.

The message that Jesus is the promised messiah, that he died and rose again, that he ushered in a Kingdom of followers who were to be from all races and genders, who were to have as their identifying mark love and care for each other and those around them, is at the heart of traditional evangelical thinking. Since I passionately grasp these truths I am evangelical in belief.

Yet Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, hijacked my adjective and turned it into a political label. In the process they tarnished the simple message and exchanged it for the opposite of anything God ever intended. Division, fear, criticism, and judgement have replaced the love and compassion that the one they claim to follow preached. In fact, most evangelicals (the label and political party) act contrary to what was once at the heart of those who think evangelically. In the process they have driven many away from the church, and presented a deeply flawed image of Christianity.  I resent them.

If we would read the accounts of Jesus we would see a leader that is far different than the politics of the far right evangelicals, yet a historical evangelical would make Jesus’ life central to their thinking and way of life. Jesus was chastised for accepting the fringe and outcasts of society, the religious folks resented him, the lowest rungs of society were attracted to him and he welcomed them. He spent little time discussing politics but rather he reached out to touch hearts and heal needs. His kingdom was built by changing lives not protesting evils.

I am proud to think like that, it makes me evangelical but not AN Evangelical.

 

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