Saturday, January 22, 2005

Am I an Evangelical? Part 1

In a Christian Carnival article, Rick of Brutally Honest wonders if he is an evangelical. Given Milady's and my confusion about exactly what an evangelical is and whether we are evangelicals, I decided to read the the National Association of Evangelicals statement of faith as a starting point as Rick suggests in the comments.

First, I do need to outline my own background. I grew up in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and despite my problems with the liberal turn in the Disciples of Christ, I still consider myself a Restoration Movement adherant (and attend a nice, conservative independant Christian Church now). "In Essentials, Unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love." These are not traits traditionally associated with evangelicals, but does it fit in with the definitions? Let's go through each one by one.

Rick had trouble with the first Evangelical statement of faith:

"We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God."

I find that I dislike this slightly, since it allows for the "King James Version is infallable" fallacy that some people are prone to form. I like this restatement from this page from Answers In Genesis:

"The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority, not only in all matters of faith and conduct, but in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science."

I suppose I just went further than the evangelicals. Oops. :)

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I can't disagree with Unitarians any less than I do now. Dr. Vallicella of Maverick Philosopher fame has presented some really interesting philosophical problems with the Trinity, but I admit that I take the existance of the Trinity on faith anyway.

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

Again, I have to generally agree with this one.

We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

In his post, Rick says:

The problem I have with this one has to do with who the arbiter is in defining lost and sinful people. It leads to the practice of my saying I'm not lost and sinful and you are... when the reality may be exactly the opposite.

I think Rick here is half-right in his opposition, for the wrong reasons. Many evangelicals are very much "I'm saved, and you're not, so there. :P" It isn't our place as believers to declare that someone is not saved, but we can tell all that everyone is sinful (including believers) and that all are lost without the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

I guess I'm with the evangelicals again.

I'll continue with the line items in another post today or tomorrow.

No comments: