Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Evangelical? What do you mean by that?

Pyromaniacs had an excellent post regarding Evangelicals. A must read.

As some of you would know, I'm not a native English speaker. (Err... "English native speaker"? or "native English speaker"? Well, you get the point.) And so, I only learned the word, 'Evangelical' about 5 years ago, but when I learned the etymology of it, I instantly liked the word. It was rooted in the word, 'Evangel', which meant the gospel. I thought it was an excellent word that described Christians. What are Christians but a people who are saved by, believe in, and live by the Gospel? At the same time, I thought it slightly strange to have such a word at all, because if you are not "Evangelical", ie. believe in the Gospel, then, you simply aren't Christian, and if you are a Christian, then you believe the Gospel, so why do we need this qualifier, 'Evangelical' to start with? You are either Christian and Evangelical, or you are not Christian nor Evangelical. Full stop.

As time went by, and I learned a little bit more about the historical development of the term, Evangelical (and Evangelicalism). I appreciate those older brothers in Christ who confronted liberals and stood by the truth and I understand now a little bit better about how this term, Evangelical came about. But these days, I am increasingly unhappy with how the term is being used. The term is applied way too broadly nowadays. Too many people profess they are Evangelical Christians while practicing (living out) their lives as if they do not know what this Gospel of Grace means! I esteem that many of these people simply did not want to be singled out as non-Evangelical (may that be liberal, or else) and be left out of the party, but then did not want what the Gospel really preached for themselves or, at least, did not understand what the Gospel truly was.

I mean, if they did understand and believed the Gospel to be true and the only message of salvation, why is their focus so drifted away from Christ and the grace of God? Why so many people, who say they are Evangelical Christians, pursue the healthy and wealthy life-style so fervently? You don't see this? Take a stroll to your nearest (Evangelical) Christian bookshop, and ask for the bestsellers! What are they? I mean, sure, everyone, including Christians is sinful and we, Christians will continue to struggle and stumble over our weaknesses and temptations until the Day of the Lord. But, just among those Evangelicals, just within the people who profess that they are "of the Gospel", don't you think we ought to be a little different? We are going to sin again just like that person sitting next to you, but shouldn't we at least be headed in a different direction and aim for the heavenly things even though our feet are dirty with earthly mud?

These days, I really feel like calling it quits to identify myself as an Evangelical. Maybe this word, Evangelical is too ancient for the current generation to know its real meaning and that is the reason why its original meaning is losing its force. Perhaps we should start using a word more simple, or new. How about "Gospelism" instead of "Evangelicalism" and "Gospelic" instead of "Evangelical"? Would that be better?

Nay, these words may help for a while, but I know all too well, that it is only by Your grace that we are preserved through this wicked generation until our victorious Lord returns. O, come Lord Jesus, come!

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