In the days ahead, I want to explore some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for the last few years regarding how I locate myself in relation to the evangelical tradition in which I was raised, educated, and formed. I find myself often oscilating between wanting to remain within the evangelical tradition for the sake of having a transformative impact on the thought thereof on the one hand, and simply feeling like my own convictions simply are not in line with what the evangelical tradition is and I should just recognize that.
So, I want to explore this and do some thought experiments about whether or not I can or should be considered in evangelical. Since the defintion of terms will be key, and the very clear fact that “evangelical” is used in a different way by almost everyone, I will define “evangelical” as follows:
An evangelical is a Christian with relativelty conservative theological sensibilities, including beliefs 1) in the innerancy of Scripture, 2) in personal faith in Christ as the criterion for salvation and 3) in God as Trinity.
Also important for this discussion will be talking about the “evangelical tradition”. In what follows when I refer to the evangelical tradition I will be operating with the following defintion:
The evangelical tradtion is a cross-denominational protestant movement, largely centered in the United States and the U.K. which emphasizes personal conversion to faith in Christ, personal sanctification (focused largely on sexual behavior and internal motivations), active scripture reading and tends to embrace non-denominational, autonomous church structures.
In the posts to follow I am simply posing the question of whether or not I am an evangelical and hope that others would dialogue with me about this. And here’s what I think will truly make this inteteresting. Some years ago I held membership in the Evangelical Theological Society. However, for the last few years I’ve simply let the membership lapse because I was so disinterested in the scholarship taking place in ETS. However, if at the end of this series I conclude that am an evangelical, I will resume membership and participation in the ETS.
Here is a basic outline (open to change) of my “Am I an Evangelical” series.
II. The Doctrine of Revelation
III. The Doctrine of God
IV. Christology & Pneumatology
V. The Doctrine of Salvation
VI. Ecclesiology & Ethics
In these section I will basically be laying out my own perspectives and explore if and to what degree those may or may not fit within the evangelical tradition. At the end of this I hope to have a definitive answer to whether or not I am an evangelical.