Here’s a definition provided by George Marsden on what he thinks it means to be an “Evangelical”:
. . . “Evangelical” is a word with a more elusive meaning than “Reformed.” Basically it refers to anyone who promotes proclamation of the gospel of salvation through the atoning work of Christ and has a traditional high view of Scripture alone as authority. Evangelicalism is thus much larger than just the Reformed tradition. Within American evangelicalism, however, there is an important subgroup that might be called “card-carrying” evangelicals. These are persons who think of themselves primarily as “evangelicals” and who, as such, identify at least as much with evangelicalism as a movement as with their own formal denominations. Billy Graham, Christianity Today, Eternity, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Wheaton College and its imitators, and seminaries such as Trinity, Fuller, and Gordon-Conwell have been prototypes of this influential interdenominational evangelicalism. (George M. Marsden, ed. David F. Wells, “Reformed Theology In America,” 2-3)
What do you think about this definition? Is it accurate? And where would you place yourself on this continuum? Are you more of a denotative “Evangelical” (the first part of his definition), or more of a “card-carrying” type?
I grew up as a “card-carrying” Evangelical. I attended a Bible College and Seminary steeply rooted in this tradition of Christianity. And to some extent still have sensibilites that would probably land me in and around the “card-carrying” variety; although not without some qualification and some “self-criticism.” I have found that many of my generation, who have grown up as I have, find it embarassing, almost, to admit that they are “Evangelical;” to the extent that they are ready to denounce it with any force and any theological paradigm that places distance between them and their self-understanding (with all of its stigma) of what it means, or meant, to be an “Evangelical.” Evangelicalism carries with it a certain ethos that is very unpopular amongst the “younger generation;” and I think, for many reasons, rightly so, it in many ways is dead.
There are a million posts in the blogosphere that have already beat the dead horse of Evangelicalism to death; that’s not what I’m intending to do here. I’m just curious to hear what you think.