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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 

Evangelical: To Be or Not To Be?

Recently on What the Thunder Said...

On a few different posts, we've talked about the value of identifying as "evangelical," and why to leave that moniker behind. I briefly mentioned a few reasons for doing so, and then noted a similar blog post by John Armstrong.

The upside of all of this is that Quiver (who are you?) left some thoughtful remarks in the comments:


In all truthfulness, I profited more from the expression of your abandonment than I did from Armstrong's. However, I have to say, somewhat to both of you: if you seek to abandon the self-descriptive label "Evangelical," then why advertize your decision? In short, what I am saying is this: if a group of professing Christians want to assign the label "Evangelical" to themselves, let them have it. However, we must then see the terms Evangelical, Neonomain and Arminian as creative reflections of the same thing. I would much rather see you or Armstrong write a lengthy theological treatise on justification and break it up into three categorical views wherein you assign a view to the Roman Catholic, the Evangelical and the Reformed. Much like Van Til did with epistemology.
Quiver's quote was slightly edited. To see autograph, click here.

What shall we say to such things?

Answer #1
In response to why announce the secession, I truly struggle with the question. I feel it is akin to the question, why blog? Who am I to be airing my ideas out into the blogosphere/world wide web? I hope this doesn't come across as a false humility. I honestly think there requires a small sense of pride and inherent suprmeacy to think that one's thoughts merit taking up databytes on somebody's computer.

Nevertheless, I have posted because I do think that while my ideas are quite faulty and paltry, hopefully my own wrestlings will stimulate others to consider and weigh the biblical text for such things, and others wiser than myself will criticize and shape my thinking. I thank Quiver for having done both.

Answer #2
Since I have posted it, I would like to consider the last thing Quiver relates:
...if a group of professing Christians want to assign the label "Evangelical" to themselves, let them have it. However, we must then see the terms Evangelical,Neonomain and Arminian as creative reflections of the same thing. I would much rather see you or Armstrong write a lengthy theological treatise on
justification and break it up into three categorical views wherein you assign a
view to the Roman Catholic, the Evangelical and the Reformed. Much like Van Til
did with epistemology.

I am not quite sure I understand what he means when he says, "...if a group of professing Christians want to assign the label "Evangelical" to themselves, let them have it. However, we must then see the terms Evangelical, Neonomain and Arminian as creative reflections of the same thing." Is he using this to say that these three categories are all claiming the title "evangelical?" I'm not quite sure. Regardless, in some sense he is equating all three positions. While I don't think this is true in every instance, when he mentions justification later, I think he is on to something.

My primarly plight with evangellyism is that it refuses to be bound by things like justification. While an evangellyfish and an Arminian may share some theological connections, there is so much cultural baggage bound up with the evangelly-dulls. Few Arminians could sign on the political, social, and economic lines that the religious right and Evangelicals push so strongly. Even recently, the new erotic thriller that features Hollywood crooning over and wooing the evangelical voting bloc is on the heals of the Democrats awakening to a new "target market." There is much of this, I think it vain to find Neonomians and Arminians who could whole-heartedly agree.

Nevertheless, I do agree with Quiver that while there may not be perfect overlap amongst the sphere, they are definitely not mutally exclusive, especially when traveling from evangelical towards the more theological groupings.

When Jesus Christ returns, all the elements will be burned as with fire. The Scriptures are very clear that only two things will survive this baptism by fire: the Word and the Church. Not one jot or tittle will disappear, nor will Christ abandon His Bride. However, this means that everything else ::everything:: will be consumed. This means all institutions - such as denominations, schools, and especially connotations like "evangelicals" - will be destroyed on the Day of the Lord. We should be hesitant about adopting such paradigms.

Labels:

The two-fold reaction was helpful. Regarding #1:You are a mirror and nothing else, as you know, it would appear. Your reflective ability seems to be more clear and intense than most. I trust if you would keep silent a fire would well up in your bones, so you must speak.
...#2:My reasoning, which may be false, for equating those three camps or organizations (Arminianism, Neonomianism and Evangelicalism) is because two of them seem to be offended when they are cast out of the third. I assume, maybe wrongly, they have reasons for being offended and they know something about Evangelicalism that I do not. The same is true for the new movement, Open Theism. Therefore, I think we should quit fighting over who gets to ride the dead horse; rather, let us preach the gospel of the King, who rode on a borrowed ass and will soon return in flaming fire. Our label, if there is one, should be Historical Christiainity or Historical Protestantism because those of Reformed leanings seem to be the only ones who will bear that honorable label. I do not feel as if we are removing an historical landmark which are fathers have set when we remove the label of Evangelicalism from ourselves, I'm sure you would agree. Rather, I think we are doing the opposite: we are seeking to blow the dust off of one which others would have us remove.

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Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
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