To Be Evangelical

Pastoral Reflections

If you looked up ‘evangelical’ in a dictionary, the adjectival form suggests an accordance to the teachings of the Gospel. The noun derives accordingly; a person, church or organization who adheres to Gospel-centered teachings and traditions in the Christian faith. However, how words come to be used in the street is equally influential in language.

As words become politicized and take on new connotations in our culture, ‘evangelical’ was not spared. When some people think ‘evangelicals’, they think of a specific voting bloc. Within the same political sphere, they even apply it in terms of racial groups – for example, white or black evangelical. On Facebook, evangelicals are sometimes depicted as the ‘no’ camp of social policy, sadly.

I guess it doesn’t help when a researcher (or pollster) begins by asking if, as a Christian, you identify as evangelical, and then proceeds with questions which are not religious but political in nature. Statistics is helpful, but when politics become the only prism through which culture can distill our identity, it carries its own kind of risk. Whatever the case, I am worried by a trend that is changing the understanding of evangelical.

Evangelical, in the simplest of terms, is belief and practice of the Christian faith that emphasizes the whole truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Evangelical derives from the Greek, euangelion, meaning good news or gospel.

The good in the Good News is that it is much more than a smaller No. It is the story of God’s bigger Yes. Yet, one of our evangelical challenges today is reflecting the greater Yes of Christ’s good news, love, relationship, and redemptive presence in the world. When our life as a church reflects God’s greater redemptive Yes, then are we truly the bearers of God’s good news.
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Donald Nwankwo
The Light of Christ Anglican Church
4000 W. Yale Ave.
Denver, CO 80219