ALL evangelicals are different! Therefore, I will apply the term loosely to refer to a significant though not necessarily a majority of those self identifying as an evangelical or reflecting evangelical like beliefs. Many “evangelicals” have vacated the term due to its toxicity and political connection to President Trump further complicating its usage.
It is imperative I establish throughout these posts this qualification. When I use the term “evangelical” it may or may not apply to certain evangelicals. For instance, if I say, “Evangelicals are targeting the LGBTQ community in an attempt to further restrict or remove their rights.” This is true of only some evangelicals. Or if I say, “Evangelicals are opposed to climate change or social justice.” Again, some are and some are not, but those who are not may oppose gay rights or abortion. Throw in gun control, capital punishment, immigration controls, charter schools, premarital sex and myriads of other topics and evangelicalism becomes a convoluted mess of diverse views. But it doesn’t only apply to social concerns.
An evangelical born-again Christian is someone who generally believes:
The Bible to be the inspired and inerrant (in whole or in part) authoritative Word of God
Jesus to be the Son of God (the divine messiah but not necessarily equal to God in essence and function)
In the existence of the Holy Spirit as the third member of the Trinity but not necessarily co-equal to God and/or Jesus in essence and function.
In eternal salvation to be attainable through Jesus’ death on the cross (but not necessarily the only way to God and not necessarily by faith alone).
It is each believers mission to share this “good news” with others.
In the importance of a singular conversion experience as proof of assurance of salvation usually but not always separate from baptism
It is staggering how much heresy exists among evangelicals, though most are blissfully unaware of it. Polls show evangelicals can’t even agree on core doctrinal issues such as the divinity of Jesus, the nature of the trinity or how one procures salvation. Nonconformity on these key beliefs would have resulted in punishment or worse for most of the history of Christianity, yet this unorthodoxy barely registers a blip on evangelicalism’s radar. In their defense it is largely due to doctrinal illiteracy and not deliberate dissension. Most early Christians couldn’t agree on key issues for several hundred years but the profusion of theological knowledge via the internet makes ignorance no excuse today.
Christianity has undergone several major schisms in its long history. The East-West split (1054) and the Protestant Reformation (1517) were two major divisions. What has taken place within American evangelicalism in its brief two hundred year history is unfathomable for a faith that prides itself on unity. This is reminiscent of Christianity’s early centuries before orthodoxy had been established throughout the Roman Empire.
The current American Landscape is littered with independent churches and denominational factions numbering in the hundreds. Evangelicalism’s lack of a central authority or allegiance to a confessional or credal system of church governance helps explain but not excuse the vast array of beliefs.
Church splits are as common as divorces among evangelicals. As soon as there is a disagreement, instead of working things out, those who do not agree with the churches position on an issue simply leave and start a new church. Of course, both churches will adamantly maintain they are the more spiritually aware and sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. This is a travesty among those whose faith is based on forgiveness and love. The fact Jesus reiterated this seems to have fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes.
20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23).
And in the classic “Lord’s Prayer,”
”Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (Luke 11:4)
Paul writing to the most divisive church in the New Testament, Corinth, admonishes them,
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, a in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” ( 1 Corinthians 1:10)
“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-27)
John also asserts the value of love as critical in the life of a believer,
20”Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4:20-21).
I don’t think anyone denies the preeminence given to the essential qualities of a Christian believer throughout the New Testament, yet the fact remains: Christianity is a fractured religion.
Therefore, it will be up to the reader to differentiate as to whether the material applies to him or her. Sometimes it will and other times it won’t. Rather than qualify its use each time, let it be assumed in almost every case, we are describing “some” but “not all” evangelicals! But, when it comes to the discussion on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, it is assumed “all” evangelicals are included; otherwise, you’re not an evangelical or a Christian for that matter.
Finally, the evangelical movement has been singled out due to its aggressive militancy in politics and the repercussions of this action. However, any Christian denomination which uses the Bible as anything more than an ancient human collection of general moral principles with extensive cultural limitations (e.i., slavery, subjugation of women, homosexuality, religious elitism, supernaturalism etc…) is also targeted. This may or may not be evident in subsequent posts so the reader is his or her own judge on these matters.
Note: All biblical texts are the “New International Version” and all emphases are mine.