The more I write the clearer this sad truth becomes. This blog, as much as it’s served as a place to flesh out ideas I believe to be central to expressing the euangelion (gospel [hence, evangelical]) in our day to our culture, also continues to damage my reputation in the evangelical circles that I run in.
I’ve had friends distance themselves from me because they think my views blindly accommodate for twenty-first century secular culture. Colleagues question my commitment to the Scriptures. Past and present church members discuss my heretical views behind my back. To top it all off, one time, in an angry email, a passage was quoted to me from one of the letters to Timothy that talked about false teachers. I’m an evangelical reject. And today, I’ve decided to embrace it.
The question is, what makes this so? Why do I get accused of heresy on the regular? Before I get to that, maybe there’s a bit of explaining on my end that’s necessary. Do I consider myself an Evangelical? Yes. But in these interesting times, different people want that word to mean different things. I am with Roger Olson (although, more tempted to throw out this term than he is) who has struggled with the label recently. He states:
All labels have their problems and, to be sure “evangelical” is fraught with them. But I am not giving it up. Instead, I will fight for it. To me, it is virtually synonymous with “God-fearing, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving” Christianity. Of course, that needs unpacking also.
One thing I find helpful when talking to someone or a group with time to listen is to distinguish between the evangelical ethos and the evangelical movement. I see myself as participating in both, but I am more comfortable claiming the evangelical ethos than I am identifying with the evangelical movement– at least as it is viewed by most people.
So, most of the time, when I say I am evangelical I mean I am a Protestant Christian who believes authentic Christianity requires a conversion experience of regeneration and that faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and repentance for sin are necessarily included in that.
In so far that evangelical means the belief in repentance and conversion into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, the term describes me. What I continue to find, is that such a central conviction is NOT enough to appease those who want the term to mean other things. So, based on my experiences, I want to let you know that: You Might Be an Evangelical Reject If…
- You’re uncomfortable calling other branches of Christianity “apostate.”
- You worry that those who cling to terms like “orthodox” often do so because they believe it to be synonymous with “Neo-Calvinism.”
- You have significant questions about controversial theological “hot button” issues of the day and are some-what comfortable with the subsequent cognitive dissonance.
- You’ve been asked to leave a church leadership position for philosophical / theological reasons.
- You had a “love wins” sticker on the back of your car before the book controversy was even thought of.
- You read theologians from all across the spectrum.
- You think that science and scripture both reveal God’s truth in complementary ways.
- You think that what we believe about the so called “end times” actually matters for how we do mission today.
- You know that living the truth is more important than defending it logically.
- You recognize culture wars as pathetic attempts for Christians to grab for power.
- You don’t use the word inerrancy to describe biblical authority because its too rigid a definition and a modernist categorical imposition on the Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures.
- You think women should do anything BUT be silent in the church. (Can I get an AMEN from my sistas?)
- You think that postmodern philosophy helps theology more than it hurts it.
- You drink alcohol sometimes (in public).
- You endorse someone that has been deemed a heretic by apprising.org
- You believe that there are significant parallels between the Roman Empire of the 1st Century and the United States of modern day.
- You believe social justice is central to the gospel of the Kingdom.
- You throw up a little in your mouth every time someone says that “the rapture is coming soon, so what’s the fuss with taking care of the planet? Lets save souls!”
- You’ve said “I’m not that kind of Christian…”
- You considered or actually voted democratic in the last two elections.
- You think that African American Activists have valid points when it comes to justice issues.
- You have gay friends.
- You’ve been in a conversation where the other was appealing more to the constitution of the USA than actually biblical theology.
- You’re also an Anabaptist…
Question: How would you end the following sentence: You might be an Evangelical Reject If…
Kurt Willems is an Anabaptist writer and pastor who is preparing for church planting next year by finishing work towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. He writes at: the Pangea Blog and is also on Twitter and Facebook.