Tag Archives: Evangelicals

When is an Evangelical Christian a Christian? – terms matter!

2 Mar

Define your terms

I’ve been stymied at the increasing reports of those ‘Evangelical Christians‘ who support Donald Trump.  How can that be?  Trump doesn’t represent anything Christian, whether beliefs or actions. How can I say that? Here’s one reason:  from what I’ve READ (I don’t watch TV so I am assuming the accuracy of the reports), Donald Trump has claimed never to have asked God to forgive him.  CNN article  He explains that when he has done something wrong, he has sought to make it right.

Being right with God is a different matter.  There is objective guilt against God when we sin.  Someone has to pay, either Donald Trump or Jesus.  Christians are those who (for one thing) have turned to Jesus and accepted him as the atoning sacrifice for their sins against God.  If Donald Trump has yet to do that, then he is not a Christian by definition.

Yesterday, Al Mohler, brought up and offered a fascinating reason that had a lot of explanatory power when it comes to describing Evangelical Christians.  He shared an important distinction within the broad category of Americans who either label themselves or are called ‘Evangelical Christian’ by pollsters, media and other institutions.

If we don’t begin by clarifying the explicit meaning of a concept (a term) then confusion ensues.  No need to proceed with a discussion if there is not a ‘coming to terms’ with what something means!

So here goes:

According to Mohler’s analysis, the pure sense of the term ‘Evangelical Christian’ revolves around:

  • doctrines (beliefs) held about the Bible  (evangelical has to do with the ‘eu-angelos’ which is Greek for ‘good message’. What is the good news?  the message that Jesus has borne FOR US our deserved punishment for crimes against God AND lived a perfect life, compliant with God’s Law).
  • values held and lived out
  • participation in a church community

Evangelical Christians are those who accept the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, who hold pro-life views and are active members of a body of Christian believers.

Those outside of those boundary lines but  who have been labeled or call themselves Evangelical seem to be loosely affiliated with a church that is:

  • NEITHER Catholic NOR mainline liberal
  • are culturally Christian, but not regularly practicing
  • self-identify as believing in God

Essentially, this finer distinction falls between authentic Christians and nominal Christians, those in name only.

When Mohler described these two groups, I understand better why Trump had so many supporters among this much larger group –  those labeled ‘Evangelical Christians’, but are so in name only.

What puzzles me, now, are those who truly ARE Evangelical Christians and yet still support Donald Trump, like Jerry Falwell, Jr – president of Liberty University.  What accounts for his choice? Any thoughts?

 

 

 

Logical Gal and Smoke and Mirrors

14 May

confusing words

 

I was listening to a civil discussion between two  Christian pastors on opposite ends of the Evangelical camp.  Here was what was puzzling:

Both men used the following terms:

  • Biblical
  • Authoritative
  • Christ-centered

Yet…there was a mile-wide divide between their positions. Wouldn’t you think that Christians, or any group for that matter , would employ terms to refer to the same concepts?  Well, you cannot assume that.  If the terms (words) are the same, but point to concepts that are completely different, that is called the Fallacy of Equivocation.

It’s like one person using the word ‘pitcher’ to indicate a beverage container and another person thinking of the player who lobs a baseball.

Pitcher - baseball Pitcher of lemonade

**

Another area of discussion that offers plenty of room for confusion is in the arena of denominational doctrine:

When certain Christians assert that one is saved by grace, other groups will agree.  Only by shining light on the shadowy areas, can you see that the method of being saved is different for each.  The one group will mean grace alone and the other group will intend grace as the initial factor leading to one’s ability to choose God or accomplish necessary works to be worthy of salvation.

 

grace alone

Logical Joes and Janes are committed to clarity of terms and asking clarifying questions with gentleness and respect.