Evangelical – the label that left me behind

I haven’t used the label Evangelical for a long time now. It’s not that I’ve moved away from its classic definition but that the modern understanding of the word is far from who I am in Christ. So instead I turn to the words that have been honored for the past two thousand years:

Christian (Acts 11:26)

Person of the way of Jesus (Acts 9:2)

Child of God (John 1:12)

Friend of Jesus (John 15:15)

Co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17)

These are merely a few of the passages describing our relationship with Jesus. The word Evangelical is nowhere found in any of them. They sound good to me, though.

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15 Responses to Evangelical – the label that left me behind

  1. esbee says:

    very well said, just Christian will do for me

  2. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    “Friend of Jesus” – I just love that one!

  3. To be honest I never felt I understood what Evangelical meant enough to really claim it as a label that fit. It even seemed to change depending on who was talking about the label. The label Christian may have its issues, but I understand what it means and that makes quite a bit of difference for me.

  4. Julie Frady says:

    Evangelical means “bearer of good news.” That’s why I liked the term. But you are right, it has been ruined.
    BTW, “Christian” was not a nice term when it was coined in Antioch. It was derogatory, and believers in the first century did not like the term. That’s why in 1 Peter 4:16 Peter says “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” He is talking to persecuted believers, who, on top of being physically persecuted are also being mocked. The term means, loosely, “one who is crazy or out of his mind about Christ.” That doesn’t sound too bad to us today, but when they meant “crazy” they really did mean one who needed to be put into an asylum, not one who is just a big fan or devoted to something. Believers themselves do not embrace the term until sometime in the second century. To rephrase Peter, it might be like being told today, “However, if you suffer as an idiot for Jesus, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”
    Just thought you might find that interesting.

  5. Richard says:

    Given the gross mix of religion and politics that has emerged more recently, I am less sure of using even the term Christian without some sort of qualification to go along with it.

  6. Pastor Bob says:

    Much of the “negative” comes from the enemies of Christ.
    Some other descriptors work, but “Friend of Christ” is a very good start.

  7. Pingback: Evangelical – the label that left me behind – David's Space

  8. Gwenn Smith says:

    Jesus’ words from Matthew 4:19 came to my mind: “Come to me and I will make you fishers of men.” I used to love to share my faith. Oh, I was still very screwed up. And in some ways, I probably still am. I guess that’s why I felt qualified to empathize with people in pain and — hopefully in the right heart — share Christ’s love for them. No religious upbringing. Evangelicalism seemed to promote that. Simple grace for sinful people. No formal religious background needed, though you could have one. Just don’t forget humility.

    In recent years, my desire to reach out to people was followed by the immediate thought, “So, where do I guide these people to if they want to go to church?” I don’t have a place to go.

    I am the older undesirable single demographic without children/grandchildren. I want spiritual depth. I’d like more emphasis on spiritual fruit than spiritual gifts. The fruit means growth, which is work. I’d like to know that the church sees me as having something to offer besides child rearing, day care, teaching and other “womanly” stuff. I’d like depth in fellowship with give and take, ie, I’ll do stuff you want to do, but let’s do some things I want to do, too. And depth to teaching instead of flaky & delightful stuff from this week’s chosen Christian book. At least I can turn off the radio messages from political programs about how America’s collapsing because we’re loosing our conservative Christian values. But I haven’t yet had the guts to walk out on another cliche sermon on David’s bouts of depression and how much they are “just like” mine and everyone else’s in the world because, you know, you can sure take one case of anything in the bible and apply it to every case like it throughout history and problem solved. Instant solution. Just add Jesus and a bible story or verse. Woo hoo, cowboy!

  9. Sarah says:

    I’m with you here…but I know so many who would find my shedding of this label ‘sad’ and a reflection of my ‘liberal leanings’…as if the word ‘evangelical’ renders me of the redeemed or not.
    I feel like the way my evangelical friends/family view Faith is that one must align with right-wing/trump-esque, conservative, nationalistic political values while espousing certain Christian doctrines (like what women can/should or should not do in church etc.), and if you don’t, well it’s just ‘sad’ how astray I’ve gone…
    Just expressing some of my frustrations here.

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