Why I Am Evangelical

Derek Ouellette —  September 27, 2010

Before I answer the question of why I am Evangelical, it is important to define terms: what is an Evangelical? There are essentially two answers to this question:

1. An Evangelical is anyone who is sincerely and passionately committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is inspirited in the Bible. (This is the broad definition)

2. Theologian Roger Olson says, “Evangelicals are mostly Protestant Christians who display four characteristics: biblicism (belief in the supreme authority of scripture for faith and life), conversionism (belief that authentic Christianity always includes a radical conversion to Jesus Christ by personal repentance and faith that begins a lifelong personal relationship with him), crucicentrism (piety, devotional life, and worship centered around the cross of Jesus Christ) and activism (concern for the involvement in social transformation through evangelism and social action). [Olson, 2008; p.240]

Both definitions are kosher for me. Obviously the first is broader and may include all Christian’s except perhaps liberals since it is still based on a divinely inspired bible (and I don’t know enough about the mysterious “Orthodox Church” to have an educated opinion). The second definition would – by default – exclude Catholics since by definition it holds the Bible as the “supreme” authority whilst Catholics at the council of Trent, and more recently during the Second Vatican Council, maintain that the Bible and Tradition are equal parts.

Therefore I probably find myself more in line with the second definition since I too believe that tradition – even the Great Tradition of the Church – must be kept in check by something outside itself, and this is where Sola Scriptura comes in. But I want to be clear in saying that I acknowledge the first definition and wholly embrace Catholics who may be Evangelical, they are my brothers and sisters in the Lord. (Ironically, in saying this I alienate from myself both stubborn Catholics and stubborn Protestants who sometimes each think the other is going to hell.)

So what’s the point of embracing the label “Evangelical”? Essentially this label serves to maintain a distinction between “us” and “nominal Christians”. Nominal Christians are those who don’t take their “faith” seriously and fail to allow it to change their lives. It also maintains a distinction between “us” and “liberal Christians” who – frankly – don’t take the scriptures seriously enough (i.e. the Resurrection didn’t really happen, etc). However, many people – it seems – are hiding from the label “Evangelical” because with it comes – sometimes – a certain amount of baggage. That baggage is called “Fundamentalism” and may also be called – as least when considering theology – “conservativism”. But this will be the subject of the next blog. For now it may suffice to emphatically press the point that Evangelicalism is not synonymous with Fundamentalism!

I am Evangelical because I affirm strongly that the Bible is the supreme authority for faith and life, not because it has authority all its own, but because it was inspired by the Spirit of God. Therefore the phrase “Sola Scriptura” (by scripture alone) should be discarded – while its principle should remain intact – in favor of “by scripture supremely” which itself is shorthand for actually saying: “the authority of the triune God as it is exercised through the scriptures” – N.T. Wright.

I have tried to keep this note “lighter” and less controversial, only time will tell if I succeeded.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://blog.hillsbiblechurch.org/ Don

    Derek, thanks for this. I’m surprised that there are no comments to this post.

    I hate lables because they are so difficult to define. In part, our difficulty in doing so is that much of the traditional language of the church has been hijacked by the world. (Even this sentence needs some of its terms defined to avoid misunderstanding.)

    We just added an “About Us” page to our website and struggled with terminology that we knew would confuse some and send the wrong message to others.

    I look forward to you post on ‘fundamentalism’. I was brought up in a church that proudly labelled itself as ‘fundamental’ as as such, the members proudly wore their ‘fundamentalist’ badge. That was some fifty years ago.

    I wonder whether this same church would appreciate this label today?

    In those days, the word ‘fundamental’ as we used it simply meant Sola Scriptura as you have defined it above. So my beliefs haven’t changed but the words I use to describe them have.

  • http://wendyhedrick@gmail.com Wendy Hedrick

    I thoroughly enjoyed this blog, and I agree with your statements. It is all about our relationship with Him and He reveals himself to us so clearly…those who seek him in His Word, The Living Bible. Your remarks about the Evangelical Catholics…I believe in as well…There are some who have a True Relationship with Him and are Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, based on their love of Christ and the fruit they produce. It’s the attitude and closemindedness of the stubborn Catholics and Protestants that make it difficult for us to be able to share our faith with. Sad but true.

  • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

    Hi Don,

    I too have a love/hate relationship with labels. On the one hand they are divisive by nature, fluid, and they mean different things to different people. On the other hand, they are useful for make necessary distinctions, summarizing beliefs and it’s easy to know where someone stands on particular issues.

    As far as Fundamentalism goes, when I was young I thought, “I believe in the fundamentals of the faith. I must be a Fundamentalist”. I have since learned that things are not quite that simple. So we are together on this.

    I wish Catholics and Reformers would enter more congenial conversations.

  • http://shanecrash.wordpress.com shane crash

    Thank you so much for this. I wish I had more time to elaborate why I enjoyed this so much, thank you for sharing this.

  • Pingback: Week in Review: 10.01.10 | Near Emmaus()

  • Sue Ramsey

    Evangelicals United

    Christians Should Say
    “Not so Fast!”
    to a Romney Presidency

    Mormons are using the “Bandwagon effect” on doubting Evangelicals:

    “Come on, everybody’s supporting Romney! “, “It’s time for all conservatives to get on board”, “Evangelicals and Mormons are natural allies”, “Close your mind to doubts”, “Just do it.”

    Not so fast!

    Evangelicals are being run over by a freight train. The wealthy Mormon hierarchy speaks of shared goals and partnerships with Evangelicals. They don’t want partnerships and we certainly don’t share their goals.

    They want our congregations. They want our votes. They want to grab power.

    We all know and like some very nice Mormon foot-soldier families. They cheerfully write checks to the church, have nine or ten children and send their sons on missions. They generally do exactly what the Prophet tells them to do.

    But who is the shadowy Prophet at the top? Guided by “revelations” he and his 12 Apostles wield power over a multi-billion dollar operation.

    Romney is a seventh-generation direct descendant of one of the 12 founding apostles. He is in the Prophet’s inner circle. Is there any doubt he will be manipulating government from behind the scenes to benefit the Mormon Church?

    Spencer Kimball, one of the most revered of the Mormon Prophets said, “Missionaries take people out of the darkness of the world and lead them to the safety and light”. In the LDS Church, darkness is in Evangelical churches; safety and light is in the Mormon Temple.

    Money is Power

    Why is the Mormon Church so rich?

    The Mormon Church collects a 10% tithe from every member. Paychecks are examined to insure everyone is paying the required tithe. No other church has that level of income from every parishioner.

    In addition they own several large operations including: radio and television broadcasting, book retailing; financial companies; real estate investment and management; insurance; a newspaper; and agriculture farms and processing. They are known to favor other Mormons in business dealings.

    Why do they have incredibly small expenses?

    First, they don’t pay clergy because almost all positions in the church are volunteer. Second, they don’t support missionaries. While every young man is required to go on a two-year mission, the family, not the Mormon Church, covers the costs.

    Finally, multiple parishes share one building with services scheduled throughout the day. This may result in inconvenient times for families but it saves on construction, maintenance, heat and lights.

    Then where does all the money go?

    They don’t have to publish where the money goes. No one knows.

    We believe they could be using their wealth to fulfill Joseph Smith’s great “White Horse Prophecy” which predicts Mormon control over the country. It’s interesting that Romney, who wasn’t particularly popular with many Republican voters, suddenly has access to huge sums of money from “unknown” sources.

    Are They Really Christians?

    Let’s compare some of the basic Christian beliefs to what Romney believes.

    Romney believes that God was once a man.
    Christians believe that God was always God.

    Romney believes in the Godhead.
    Christians believe in the Trinity.

    Romney believes the Angel Moroni delivered the gold plates (Book of Mormon) to Joseph Smith.
    Christians don’t even know about the gold plates.

    Christians believe the Bible is true and complete.
    Romney believes the Book of Mormon fixed mistakes and omissions in the Bible.

    Christians believe followers of Christ, under divine inspiration, wrote the Bible.
    Romney believes that Joseph Smith, with the aid of a “Seer Stone” (placed at the bottom of a hat), wrote the translation for the “Book of Mormon”

    Christians believe that human life begins on this earth.
    Romney believes that human life begins as celestial life.

    Christians believe that after death you will be with God in Heaven.
    Romney believes that after death you will become a God and rule your own planet.

    Christians believe in Jesus Christ, our savior.
    Romney believes in Jesus Christ, our brother.

    Christians believe that underwear is a just a good idea.
    Romney believes Mormon Underwear protects against evil.

    Christians believe in baptizing the living.
    Romney believes in baptizing the dead, even the unwilling dead.

    Christians believe in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
    Romney believes in Nephi, Enos, Alman, Helaman.

    Christians believe in open church services.
    Romney believes in secret rituals.

    One Last Comparison

    Christians are more than happy to share their beliefs with the press and everyone else. Just ask them!

    Mormons are crying foul if the press asks questions about their beliefs.

    What do they have to hide?