Evangelical: The 4 Letter Word

Evangelical…It would seem as though this word has gained quite a bit of attention lately. In the last couple of years, this term has been used to classify a group of people to talk about them, mostly in a negative light. Many have said that we live in a ‘post-evangelical’ world and that evangelicalism is dead.

As my theology has moved toward progressivism, I have heard more and more of this. Most of who I listen to and read today talk about leaving evangelicalism behind. Some describe it as a divorce.

Since the election of our president last month, the frequency in which this has happened has skyrocketed. Apparently, somewhere around 80% of people who have claimed the label ‘evangelical’ voted for Donald Trump. This is horrifying to many of us but let’s put that on hold. The day after the election I read one person on Twitter: “I drafted my divorce papers with evangelicalism years ago, today I served them.”

While there is a rebellious part of me that screams “YES, peace out evangelicalism!”

…my heart still breaks.

…because I believe there is still good news in Christ.

Let’s chat about the root of ‘evangelical’

This word comes from the Greek euaggelion which literally means God’s Good News or Gospel. The word was actually used to talk about Cesar before the birth of Jesus but the Jews spoke of Jesus this way. That Jesus was God’s Good News for mankind. As time has passed the ‘gospel’ has been turned into the story of Jesus and then to the necessary acknowledgement of Jesus as Savior from an angry God because of our sins.

More recently, ‘evangelical’ has become a label for those who ascribe to a handful of Christian denominations that are some of the most conservative. It was 80% of the most conservative, white knuckle Biblical literalists, sinners are bound for eternal conscious torment, Jesus is the only way… people… that elected a seriously dangerous straight white male supremacist to lead the most powerful nation in the world.

That. All of that… does not sound like good news.

Friends, ‘Evangelical’ has been hijacked. It has been turned into a 4 letter word. The message of Jesus, the Christ, was good news. It was full of hope for the oppressed Jewish people. It was full of self-sacrificing love, even for enemies. It spoke truth to those in power and the religious elite. It brought healing, restoration, and redemption.

So I would say, instead of dropping the label, we reclaim it.

Because I would dare say, in our time of unrest, as we teeter on the brink of social justice or  social oppression… the brink terror or hope… Environmental consciousness or degradation…There is euaggelion in the message of Christ.

Shalom

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