Friday, 2 January 2015

On Labels: Evangelical

I haven't looked up the definition on Wikipedia - or anywhere else.

But for me, the word 'evangelical' boils down to four things:

True Evangelical churches
1. Teach the Bible
2. Care about unbelievers, and preach the gospel to them
3. Protect themselves against false teaching and compromise
4. State what they believe

The Problem
'Did God really say...?'.  That encounter between the first woman and the serpent is repeated countless times today.  We have stopped daring to take God at his word.  Our theological colleges and churches all too often undermine our faith in God's word instead of strengthening it.  We have countless translations of the Bible in English.  But all too often, it is not read, it is not believed and it is not lived.  And because of our limited knowledge of God through the scriptures, we often resort to a people-pleasing, man-centred Gospel which is not powerful enough to bring true godliness and repentance.

As evangelicals:
- We believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God
- We teach the Bible – we 'exegete' – read out of the passages of the Bible [scripture] what is in there.  We avoid manipulating scripture to make it say what we want.
- We usually teach the Bible in a 'book by book' way, rather than picking out the passages and themes we like.  We do this to try and avoid bias and obsessing over pet themes, keep the content of our teaching balanced and read passages in their proper context.
- We weigh teachings, prophecies, guidance and philosophies against the clear teaching of scripture
- We seek to preach the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – to every creature
- The gospel is centred around God's righteousness and our sinfulness.  Our sins deserve God's wrath, and we are saved by the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, through repentance, faith, baptism and abiding in Christ on our part and the regenerating power of God's Holy Spirit on his part
- We preach the gospel in church meetings and outside of meetings.  We train our members in personal evangelism
- We defend the message of the gospel from false versions of it, warning people against compromise and false teaching.

Non-Evangelical Churches
1. Have no real credibility to most outsiders and some insiders, and in the long run they lose members and eventually die
2. Allow politics and social action to take precedence over the message of the gospel.  Solving temporal problems takes priority over where people spend eternity.
3. Try to make people like them and like God instead of seeing people as spiritually blind and lost sinners in need of a saviour.
4. Compromise the message of the gospel in the face of opponents of Christianity to try and win them over.  They often 'jump on bandwagons', following current belief systems, mixing them with scripture as they see fit.
5. Mix the Bible with tradition or false spirituality or intellectualism.
6. On occasion, add extra traditions and teachings to scripture.
7. Seek unity with other groups within other forms of Christianity and sometimes other religions on a 'lowest common denominator' basis.

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