A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Evangelical: A Synonym for Extremism?

Lately as I've been reading columns and op-eds, I've been rather struck by the increasing use of "evangelical" by the media as a buzz word for some kind of radicalism or religious extremism.
Months ago I observed that Andrew Bolt, who writes for the Herald Sun, applied the term in one of his blog posts to the global warming catastrophists... This seemed to me rather odd and offensive to me at the time, since catastrophists revel in bad news... the badder the better... one would think...
Several weeks ago, I read a write up on the American blog site, Ricochet, regarding the Washington Memorial rally organized by Fox News' Glenn Beck in which Beck, who is a Mormon was described as being "evangelical"... with the implication that the organizer was demonstrating over-the-top religious fervour.
And then in the past week... this one took the cake... An atheist describing fellow atheists behaving badly (like Richard Dawkins and Alec Stewart) as "evangelical". So according to this designation, "evangelical" refers to a kind of obnoxious prosleytism.

It does beg the questions as to how many of these media types really know the meaning of the word. I'm no theologian but years ago I heard a sermon, and several others since, in which I was informed that "evangelical" was derived from the Greek "evangelion" which means "good news".  So to be "evangelical" it seems to me then would be someone who believes the gospel... "the good news" as proclaimed in the Bible.

I realise that the word "evangelical" has lost its potency in the church, which is probably 90% of the problem. There are many who consider themselves evangelicals who don't believe that all of Scripture hold equal weight in light of contemporary thinking. I daresay there would be a whole generation of young Christians who probably don't even know the meaning of the word.

But what is sadder still, is that the non-believing world has co-opted the word to describe a kind belligerent zealotry. The negative connotation is unfortunate and puts many faithful, Bible-believing Christians on the defensive. Rather like "born-again"...

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