I want to change my name. Well, I don’t really WANT to, in the sense that I don’t like it, but I want to because of how most people understand it today.
I am, unashamedly, in the Reformational context in which the name was forged – an Evangelical.
Come on – don’t wince.
Its good name.
At least it used to be.
Nowadays, its more of a by-word. A catch-all for anti-intellectual, pseudo-spiritual, religio-political, extremist-conservative morons. And I don’t like it any more.
When the Reformation broke loose, the issue upon which the whole matter really swung, was the doctrine of justification by faith alone – the Gospel or evangel (good news). So Luther referred to this new movement within the Church as evangelische kirke, or “evangelical church.”
Historically, those who would have identified themselves as “Evangelical” could be marked out most by their adherence to the 5 solas of the Reformation.
Evangelicals were distinguished by their commitment to the singular and supreme authority of the Scriptures (sola Scriptura); to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone (sola Gratia) in opposition to any merit man could bring to the table; that such grace is obtained savingly by faith alone (sola Fide) and not by any effort anyone can expend; that such saving grace is effectual because of the substitutionary death of Christ at Calvary alone (solus Christus); and so all things ultimately exist from God, for God, by God – to the glory of God alone (soli Deo Gloria). Pretty simple. But we ain’t in Kansas no more Toto.
Evangelical is the non-politically correct label for every self-styled religious wing-nut who thumps his Bible and spouts his personal version of Christianity and nonsense.
And I don’t like it.
Not one bit.
This is one humongous case of identity theft.
I wonder if Jesus every wanted to change His name because of the ones who hi-jacked it for their purposes? Or does He cringe in Heaven these days the way we use “Christian”? But if He changes His name, where will we go? There is only one name, under Heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved. No matter how badly abused, how poorly understood, how sickeningly employed, how wickedly co-opted, how misunderstood. I wonder if He weeps because I call myself one?
Maybe I shouldn’t change my name. I’m not ashamed of His no matter how badly its been mangled. Maybe we shouldn’t look for something with less baggage and more acceptability. Maybe we should set our faces like a flint – and own who we are. Maybe we should take the name back. Redefine it for our generation by our commitment to the Gospel and its transforming power. The first time people were called Christians it wasn’t a compliment. Like being called an Evangelical today.
You know what – I am an Evangelical. That’s my name. I do believe in sola Scriptura and sola Gratia and sola Fide, Solus Christus and soli Deo Gloria. I do. I am Christ’s. And if the world finds that unfashionable, un-cool, dated, linked with foolishness and all sorts of stuff I don’t like either – too bad!
That’s my name.
I am an Evangelical.
By God’s grace.
Not by disgrace.
Let the tongues wag.