Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is this thing called Evangelicalism?

In the 1970s, when I became a Christian, people were already asking the question, “What is an Evangelical?” In the context in which I lived at the time, Europe, the answer was really quite simple. It meant “Protestant.” But that did not solve the matter. I did have to come back to my native land.

Arriving in the USA and heading off to a seminary (known to some as “saint school”), I found the same question being asked. The answers given at the time were historical or theological in nature. They were also inconclusive.

I still ask the question. Why? Because there are so many people who want to crawl under this umbrella with whom I discern very little commonality of belief or practice. Wheaton College defines the modern term this way:

There are three senses in which the term "evangelical" is used today as we enter the 21st-century. The first is to see as "evangelical" all Christians who affirm a few key doctrines and practical emphases. British historian David Bebbington approaches evangelicalism from this direction and notes four specific hallmarks of evangelical religion: conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. A second sense is to look at evangelicalism as an organic group of movements and religious tradition. Within this context "evangelical" denotes a style as much as a set of beliefs. As a result, groups as disparate as black Baptists and Dutch Reformed Churches, Mennonites and Pentecostals, Catholic charismatics and Southern Baptists all come under the evangelical umbrella-demonstrating just how diverse the movement really is. A third sense of the term is as the self-ascribed label for a coalition that arose during the Second World War. This group came into being as a reaction against the perceived anti-intellectual, separatist, belligerent nature of the fundamentalist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Importantly, its core personalities (like Harold John Ockenga and Billy Graham), institutions (for instance, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College), and organizations (such as the National Association of Evangelicals and Youth for Christ) have played a pivotal role in giving the wider movement a sense of cohesion that extends beyond these "card-carrying" evangelicals.
(To read the entire article, click here).

There really isn’t a lot of help there, is there? Maybe we can understand this a little better if we recognize that the word often has an adverb attached to it. Very often people (in the USA) refer to something they call “broadly evangelical.” Now we’re getting somewhere – I think. Why do I think that? Because I can look at the wide array of theological systems (and non-systems!), and the worship and lifestyle practices of those claiming to be “broadly evangelical” and note that, in fact, very little is meant by the term. Mormons lay claim to the mantle as easily as do Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, various Church or Christ groups, and myriad other groups. The Emerging Church” claims what is left after evangelicalism and mainstream denominationalism finish off our spiritual sensibilities. I have no problem at all confusing broadly evangelical groups with liberals, heretics, and generally mixed-up folk.

So, what to do? You can call me a Christian, or a Protestant, or a Calvinist (that’s a definition waiting for another essay).
Those are just a few of the many names I have been called! I would prefer it, however, if you didn’t refer to me as either evangelical or broadly evangelical.

How about you?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nuff Said

This came in today. It says heaps. Enjoy!

Louis Farrakhan heaps praise on Barack Obama
Fred Jackson - OneNewsNow - 2/25/2008 8:15:00 AM

Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is the "hope of the entire world."

Associated Press reports that Farrakhan, addressing some 20,000 people Sunday at the annual "Saviours' Day" celebration in Chicago, never explicitly endorsed Obama but spent most of a nearly two-hour speech praising the Illinois senator. AP says Farrakhan compared Obama to Nation of Islam founder Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father. He suggested that Obama "could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall."

According to the Chicago Tribune, Farrakhan spoke about the war in Iraq, the nation's economic problems, and the increase in natural disasters, saying the world was in a perilous state and Obama could help it recover. "This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be a better place," he said.

The Tribune reports that Obama's people moved quickly yesterday to try to downplay the praises of Farrakhan, who has a history of controversial remarks -- particularly regarding the Jewish people. The newspaper quotes Obama spokesman, Bill Burton, who said that "Senator Obama has been clear in his objections to Minister Farrakhan's past pronouncements and has not solicited the minister's support."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Non-American by Choice
(I know that the color in my headline is a difficult color to read on a website, but it was chosen for the obvious reason)

In the past two weeks two American cities have told the US Marine Corps that they are not welcome. Read one of the news reports here. Toledo, Ohio has joined Berkley, California (that's shocking, huh?) in making these unAmerican demands. I have solutions, of course.

  • First, strip them of all Federal aid including tuition assistance for college students; funding for road projects; WIC; and Aid for Dependent Children. Keep the money coming in for all veteran-related expenses, like the GI Bill and GI Loan mortgages.
  • Next, deny them access to any of the functions of the National Guard. And do not allow any of their citizens to join any branch of our military.
  • Finally, allow them to create their own militia for protection of their fair cities, since we should offer no protection for them in the event of an invasion (anybody remember Red Dawn?).
This is America. Disagreeing with its policies, its treaties and its general direction is fine. It is, in fact, the very reason for which our military stands up for this country. They protect our freedom to voice our opinions; never more than now, when the enemy is an aggressor which attacked us on our own soil.

Telling the people who stand between you and chaos; who defend you from the imposition of Sharia Law (see entry of February 7) is neither wise nor moral. As I have suggested before, especially in the case of denizens of Hollywierd who so often proclaim they're moving to another country (Michael Moore, can I help you pack?) - GO, please. We do not need you. You are welcome to stay, but please shut up.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Convert or Die!

I read an article this morning which doesn't surprise me; but does shock me. The Archbishop of Canterbury (no friend to Christianity as far as I can tell) wants to complete the Islamicization of Great Britain. The long and the short of it is that the Archbishop not only believes it inevitable that Sharia Law will become the law of the land in England - he believes it should!

This has been predicted by many Christians for years. When Muslim populations grow in Western nations, they will seek the implementation of this Islamic system of law. It will become the vehicle for the persecution of all who refuse to submit to Islam. It will be the manner by which religious leaders continue to abuse women and minorities. It will not allow Muslims to co-exist peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbors.

What can you do about it? Let me suggest three manners of response:
  1. PRAY. Pray for England. Pray for the Archbishop. Pray for the Christians of England to be able to resist.
  2. READ. Read your Bible. Read about Islam (try to understand something of Christianity first!). Educate yourself regarding the evils of this system of belief that wants to overcome the world - and either subjugate or kill all who resist.
  3. EVANGELIZE. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation," the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:2. Your friends and neighbors need to be told.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
"So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:6).

Late breaking addition. Here's how this Sharia Law works out in practice.

What say you, my brothers and sisters?