Evangelicalism and Me up a Tree...

Recently I've had some engagements on Twitter with people who are determined that I am not an evangelical Christian.  I suspect that what they really mean is that they are not sure I'm actually a 'proper' Christian at all.


There is really no point in arguing with people like this and I do not intend to, however I do want to tell you that, having gone through some wrestling with my evangelical heritage, I am proud to be an evangelical, I think evangelicalism is a good part of the Christian traditions and I may have a 'Jody-shaped' evangelicalism, but it is evangelicalism none-the-less.  I know this because I'm lucky enough to work with and be friends with people from other traditions - and I know I am not that.  I also know that no matter how irksome some evangelical behaviours/jargon/assumptions are to me, I can no more be 'not evangelical' than I can be 'not Scottish'.

So, because people seem to be Very Keen on statements of faith, I thought I would make up my own definition of 'Jody-shaped' evangelical faith and here it is:

1. God exists
2. God thinks I'm fab
3. God came to the Earth as a human being, Jesus
4. God is present in the world by the Holy Spirit
5. God saves me, I'm not sure exactly how
6. Incarnation is important
7. The Cross is important
8. The Resurrection is most important
9. Holy Saturday is quite significant too come to that
10. The Bible is awesome
11. Other people are made in God's Image
12. God is beyond my imagination
13. God is good.
14. I should do something about these things, otherwise my head will explode

there are of course other things such as 'We should pray', 'I don't care if this is called being an evangelical or not' and 'tribes and exclusion are marks of sin and nothing to be proud of' - but I thought these were outworking of points 14 and 11.

Anyway, let me know what your shaped evangelicalism looks like or write your own blogpost and send me a link.  We could start a trend 'stop evangelical facism now!' or something.  Anyway, be free, be creative, own your own identity and let me know how you understand your own faith.


Revsimmy said...

Gosh. Seems like Jody-shaped evangelicalism looks quite a bit like Simon-shaped evangelicalism.

Although I prefer to use "evangelical" as my label-of-last-resort, and in spite of my own struggles with what many assume it means, I have been noticing recently how defensive and protective I get when certain high-media-profile christians from other traditions start attacking their stereotypes of evangelicals (as if they've nothing better to do). So I'm up for joining :)

Revsimmy said...

I would also want to add

2a. God thinks you're fab, too;
12a. God is also beyond my, your or anyone else's description.

Andrew Bennison said...

I'm so glad that you're speaking speaking out for a more inclusive definition of 'evangelical'. The BBC's "Beyond Belief" discussed the question 'What is an evangelical?' a few weeks ago, and I thought Vicky Beeching did a really superb job in calling for an understanding of evangelicalism which can embrace diversity. Very encouraging to hear.

Jokey Poyntz said...

I could sign up to what you've said too - but wouldn't something like "practising Christian" or "active Christian" also describe this as opposed to evangelical particularly? Just wondering!

Tim Goodbody said...

I agree with Jokey. I can't see much that is specifically evangelical of any shade here, though plenty of orthodoxy, so one can't disagree, though you have actually sworn an oath that is much more specific than you are here about the Bible and Salvation.

Jody Stowell said...

Simon, you are very welcome :)

Andrew, yes, Vicky is a star and absolutely I believe in rescuing Evangelicalism from narrow definitions which will strangle it to death :)

Jokey and Tim - yup, this may describe others too who don't own 'evangelical', but it's my definition of me and I'm an evangelical, so ergo... really just trying to make the point that I get to say that I'm an evangelical and this is what it looks like. I'm not sure my oaths were much more specific actually, although more eloquent certainly :)

ps. for me 'active Christian' is part of point 14 :)

Gerry Lynch said...

As a very definitely capital lettered Liberal Catholic, I would be very happy to sign on to your statement of Evangelical faith (while retaining my suspicion of all subsidiary statements of faith). I'm afraid that would probably just add further fuel to others' claims that you are not a 'real' Evangelical.

Paolo Yañez said...

Of course, God exists my friend. I totally agree with you. He touches people's lives in mysterious ways that even a former demolition expert will turn from his bad deeds and turns to God.

By:Books for Evangelism

Gary said...

My experience with Baptist/evangelical theology can best be described as a wild Roller Coaster ride: a lot of great psychological, emotional, and spiritual highs and a lot of deep psychological, emotional, and spiritual lows. Why?

In Baptist theology, your Justification and your Sanctification---your essence as a follower of Christ...if you boil it all down...is really dependent on you and your feelings.

Do I feel saved? Do I feel I really repented in my born again experience? Do I feel that I truly had faith when I made a decision for Christ; when I prayed a version of the Sinner's Prayer? If I am really saved, why do I feel at times that my faith is so weak? Maybe I need to do the born again experience again; maybe I need to pray the Sinner's Prayer again, just to be 100% sure that I am saved. I want to know without any doubt that I am saved, and if I do not feel saved, I begin to doubt my salvation.

Baptist/evangelical theology tells me that I will always feel Christ's presence and strength inside me, if I am a true believer. But what if I don't feel him there sometimes? If it is true that I should always be able to hear God speak to me, in an inner voice or feel his inner presence move me/lead me to do his will, what is going on when I don't hear anything or feel anything? Have I committed some unknown sin and he is refusing to hear me? Or is the reason that I don't hear or feel him present within me... is because I'm not really saved!

I was so incredibly happy to find orthodox (confessional) Lutheranism and find out that my feelings have nothing to do with my Justification, my salvation, nor with my Sanctification, my walk with my Savior and Lord! My salvation was accomplished 100% by God.

Jane hatton said...

Best description of evangelism I ever heard was "building bridges of empathy for Jesus to walk over". As a hospital chaplain, I try to build those bridges every day, and it's such a joy when we see that Jesus has walked over... and sometimes we don't see