Mike Bird, on Facebook pondered saving the word ‘Evangelical’:
The only way to save the word”evangelical” is to seize it from the non-denominational, civic & consumerist religion, mega-church industrial complex and orientate it towards “one holy catholic and apostolic church.”
I can’t help wondering what would happen to such an attempt to create an Evangelicalism Lite. When stripped of the oh so commercial worship songs, the politico-religious shibboleths that serve as loyalty tests, and the rest of the 20th century trappings of power that have accereted to, and so changed beyond recognition the simple faith of Newton and the Clapham Sect1 and other social activists in the name of Jesus, what would be left?
Mike thinks Evangelicalism Lite would be ‘one holy catholic and apostolic’ I suspect like an onion when the last layer was removed the onion would be gone. I have many friends who value the word, some who point to the fine work of the World Evangelical Alliance and remind me that it is nothing like the industrial strength power Evangelicalism of the USA (even in the USA). Yet my experiences were different, brought up as Evangelical first and Baptist in a poor second place, I had to rebel against the shibboleths to protect my faith in the Creator God, and I had to learn that following Jesus meant working with all his other followers (except the ‘Evangelicals’ who could not be ‘unequally yoked with sinners’ and so could only support a mission to the University if every speaker signed their declaration of faith).
In my experience in Britain in the 60s the religious life was divided between Evangelicals and Followers of Jesus, and I chose the Christians over the lions.
- Wouldn’t that be a fine name for a 60s band? [↩]