Whether you realize it or not, you might be an evangelical Christian. Some people think “evangelical” is a negative label even though it comes from the word “gospel.” The gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ which is basic Christian beliefs.
The results from a new 2-year study properly defines evangelical by theology rather than by self-identity, denominational affiliation, ethnicity, or politics. Therefore, you might be in a liberal Christian church and not be an evangelical. At the same time, you might be an evangelical Christian even though you don’t like the label.
Here’s the test from the survey: Would you answer “strongly agree” to these four statements?
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
- It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
There’s a Christianity Today article with more analysis about the study. Here’s what really stood out to me:
1) Only 25 percent of African Americans who hold evangelical beliefs consider themselves evangelical Christians. This is frustrating. It makes me think people need to get their definitions right.
2) 61% of people who identify themselves as “Christian” do not hold evangelical beliefs. This reminds me of the liberal Christian churches out there, and the quote by J. Gresham Machen when he said that liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. Again, I think Christianity as a whole would benefit from clearer definitions.
3) Finally, I was surprised that 23% of self-identified Catholics are evangelical because question 3 is in direct opposition to official Catholic church teaching which excommunicates them from the church. It seems as if there are many Catholics that need to find a new church. 🙂