In Which I Define Terms

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, November 16, 2016

fish-ichthus

In Which I Define Terms

I am uncomfortable with the term “Evangelical.”

There. I have said it. There it is, in black and white. (At least, in black and white on the computer screen.)

Looking at my past, I do have some Evangelical street cred. Yes, I was active in a bible study group in high school and into college, which led me to a non-denominational bible church on the northwest side of Chicago. I learned Pietistic practices, which were oddly and wonderfully balanced by the liturgical learning and careful Lutheran catechism of the church where I was baptized and confirmed.

And, to crown all this bible learning, I received a bachelor’s degree from a non-denominational bible college in downtown Chicago, in the mid-1980’s. (In church music. I wasn’t allowed to take biblical Greek or study to become a pastor at the time, since I was a woman. Women weren’t permitted/allowed to serve freely or utilize their God-given gifts. At least, under that particular stream of Evangelicalism. But, I digress.)

Yes. I used to identify as an Evangelical. Over the years, how twisted that term has become. So much rule-keeping, modern-day Pharisaism/legalism, and—most frightening to me, bigotry and xenophobia. Arrogant, condescending, cultural baggage is also hung on that moniker, causing me to shrink from using the term for myself.

What particularly opened my eyes to the smallness and meanness of modern-day Evangelicalism was (in no particular order), seminary training, counseling training and on-the-job work as an addictions counselor, chaplain training, and on-the-job work as a chaplain in an urban setting.

I sometimes take refuge in the historical definition of Evangelical, as in one who freely and gladly shares the Good News of the Gospel. Period. I am more likely to align myself with that simple definition, which is sadly antiquated, nowadays.

And now, post-presidential election, I have absolutely NO idea what an Evangelical is, or isn’t, or stands for or against or anything else. I find myself running to the embrace of a God who is so much bigger than anything this world has for me. My Refuge and Strength, and a very present Help in times of trouble and need.

Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers for our country, for our representatives, for the leadership. Lift up all of the diverse voices, and downtrodden and silenced groups across this land. Draw us together as the unified people we strive to be, and show us all the way to walk together with openness, genuineness, tolerance, and—yes—love. (Even towards Evangelicals. 😉 ) Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

2 responses to “In Which I Define Terms

  1. The cultural baggage has come to a head recently, but as you say it has been present for years. Too much and we finally break the camel’s back. That’s the point it reached for me, and why I no longer label myself Evangelical. It’s sad that a fairly useful term has been corrupted so badly.

    • I have been distancing myself from much of the Evangelical camp for some time, sadly. And, I agree. It is not only cultural baggage that has made this term so corrupt, even poisonous. SO sad. I still have friends there who identify as Evangelicals for all (or, most) of the historical reasons you and I probably went there, too. Again I say, SO sad.

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