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Definition of Evangelical

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  • Definition of Evangelical

    Would most evangelicals hold to the definition that 'evangelicalism' has its foundational meaning as "people who hold to, at minimal, some of the ancient Christian confessions?"

    (I am fine including 'mainstream' Christian groups who also adhere to some of the ancient Christian confessions. I was sort of focused on the term 'evangelical' here. )

    I might moderate the definition by noting that such evangelicals may be consciously aware of the connection of their faith with the confessions. (If someone has an improved definition of evangelical, that would be helpful.)

    If I end up having to define those who are Christians, I would tend to speak of confessional Christianity -- those holding to, at minimal, the Apostles' Creed.

    I suppose we could also ask what makes Christians also evangelical.

  • #2
    Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post
    Would most evangelicals hold to the definition that 'evangelicalism' has its foundational meaning as "people who hold to, at minimal, some of the ancient Christian confessions?"

    (I am fine including 'mainstream' Christian groups who also adhere to some of the ancient Christian confessions. I was sort of focused on the term 'evangelical' here. )

    I might moderate the definition by noting that such evangelicals may be consciously aware of the connection of their faith with the confessions. (If someone has an improved definition of evangelical, that would be helpful.)

    If I end up having to define those who are Christians, I would tend to speak of confessional Christianity -- those holding to, at minimal, the Apostles' Creed.

    I suppose we could also ask what makes Christians also evangelical.
    I'd say that most people who label themselves "Evangelical" are unlikely to hold to any of the creeds, as Evangelicalism is generally non-creedal.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
      I'd say that most people who label themselves "Evangelical" are unlikely to hold to any of the creeds, as Evangelicalism is generally non-creedal.
      Interesting. Hadn't thought of it that way.
      "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post
        Would most evangelicals hold to the definition that 'evangelicalism' has its foundational meaning as "people who hold to, at minimal, some of the ancient Christian confessions?"

        (I am fine including 'mainstream' Christian groups who also adhere to some of the ancient Christian confessions. I was sort of focused on the term 'evangelical' here. )

        I might moderate the definition by noting that such evangelicals may be consciously aware of the connection of their faith with the confessions. (If someone has an improved definition of evangelical, that would be helpful.)

        If I end up having to define those who are Christians, I would tend to speak of confessional Christianity -- those holding to, at minimal, the Apostles' Creed.

        I suppose we could also ask what makes Christians also evangelical.
        I've always thought that "Evangelical" had more to do with those who believe it's.... well, here's a definition from Webster with which I agree....

        emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual
        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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        • #5
          I've always thought it had to do with the emphasis of "evangelizing" to spread the gospel... not whether it was credal or not...
          "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

          "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
            I've always thought it had to do with the emphasis of "evangelizing" to spread the gospel... not whether it was credal or not...
            Which is why I like the definition I posted.
            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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            • #7
              Here's the Apostle's Creed copied from CCEL
              https://www.ccel.org/creeds/apostles.creed.html

              1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

              2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

              3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

              4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

              5. The third day he rose again from the dead:

              6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

              7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

              8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:

              9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

              10. The forgiveness of sins:

              1l. The resurrection of the body:

              12. And the life everlasting. Amen.
              I know from my background that lots of Christians don't learn the creeds and confessions, but the Apostle Creed would still underlie the description from Cow Poke.

              It doesn't seem to be a 'big' problem if Christians aren't all aware of the ideas in this creed. The problem is if a person opposes the truths found in this creed.

              There also is problem when ministers confess the Apostle Creed publicly but disagree with it in private.

              After studying the creeds and confessions, I decided it would be good to teach these in the local churches and to confess these among the members. But it could be interesting introducing congregational confession in a church group that hasn't been publicly confessing these.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
                I've always thought it had to do with the emphasis of "evangelizing" to spread the gospel... not whether it was credal or not...
                I would think evangelism is part of the use of the name, but I wondered if there was also reaction to liberal theology -- which I would tie-in with the break from the creeds.

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                • #9
                  I realize that the Apostle's Creed is quite minimal in it's scope. Especially noticeable, this creed doesn't confess anything explicitly about scriptures. I used this as a simple, but minimal, statement of beliefs that I thought would apply as a statement to discern from people who like scriptures as fallible myths. However, you can't be consistent to say scripture is all fallible mythology while also adhering the Apostle's Creed.

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                  • #10
                    My last church before moving (and the one I'm attending now) recite the Apostle's Creed now. I'm sort of in the no-man's land between mainline and evangelical, as both churches are UMC churches that are very much evangelical (many such churches, especially in the South, do not reflect the leftward motion on a denominational level).
                    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post
                      I realize that the Apostle's Creed is quite minimal in it's scope. Especially noticeable, this creed doesn't confess anything explicitly about scriptures. I used this as a simple, but minimal, statement of beliefs that I thought would apply as a statement to discern from people who like scriptures as fallible myths. However, you can't be consistent to say scripture is all fallible mythology while also adhering the Apostle's Creed.
                      But the root in "Evangelical" would be "to evangelize". It's not so much about what you believe, but what you do.
                      "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                        But the root in "Evangelical" would be "to evangelize". It's not so much about what you believe, but what you do.
                        So, is the content of the message not as relevant as the act of sharing the message?

                        This question is intended to 'examine' whether groups would reasonably call themselves 'evangelical' if the message isn't consistent with the Apostle's Creed.

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                        • #13
                          I might be off base here, but I sort of see a dividing line in whether the church emphasizes the need for a personal decision to follow Christ or not. I don't see that in the more liberal churches at all, whereas the UMC Church here in town I mentioned gives all visitors a welcome packet that includes a basic gospel presentation (and the pastor will emphasize the gospel in his sermons, even going off topic in doing so).
                          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post
                            So, is the content of the message not as relevant as the act of sharing the message?

                            This question is intended to 'examine' whether groups would reasonably call themselves 'evangelical' if the message isn't consistent with the Apostle's Creed.
                            I'd say the content is non-negotiable. The Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses evangelize more than anybody but they sure ain't evangelical.
                            "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                              I might be off base here, but I sort of see a dividing line in whether the church emphasizes the need for a personal decision to follow Christ or not. I don't see that in the more liberal churches at all, whereas the UMC Church here in town I mentioned gives all visitors a welcome packet that includes a basic gospel presentation (and the pastor will emphasize the gospel in his sermons, even going off topic in doing so).
                              That's probably inherent in the "Evangelical". There's a need to tell others about Jesus, as in the Great Commission. At the extreme other end is, for example, the Unitarians, who, in my town, just gather like old hippies to play guitars and swap recipes.
                              "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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