What Is an Evangelical?

Understanding born-again American Protestants

 

In the United States today, the term "evangelical" ordinarily refers to a Protestant Christian who has had a born-again experience and who believes they should tell others about the gospel. Most evangelicals would say they've had an experience in which they accepted Jesus "as Lord and savior." They feel it is important to have a personal relationship with Jesus and spread Jesus' message so that other people can also achieve salvation and closeness with God.



Which Christian denominations are evangelical?

Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, Church of Christ, National Baptist, American Baptist, Church of the Nazarene, and many nondenominational churches are evangelical. Most Pentecostal or charismatic churches--congregations which focus on the power of the Holy Spirit--are evangelical.



Some Catholics and members of 'mainline' churches--like Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists--consider themselves evangelical, but not many.

Are evangelicals fundamentalists?

Not many evangelicals take every part of the Bible literally, but they do take it very seriously. Where non-evangelicals consider the Bible open to intepretation, evangelicals are less willing to stretch the boundaries of what is considered permissable by the Bible--for example, in the case of homosexuality.

Only a small subset of evangelicals are fundamentalists, but all fundamentalists are evangelical.

What are some evangelical movements that non-evangelicals might know?

  • Promise Keepers (conservative Christian men's movement)
  • James Dobson's "Focus on the Family" ministry
  • Movements advocating prayer in public schools, keeping the Ten Commandments in public places, and keeping the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance

    What are some evangelical products that non-evangelicals might know?

  • Gospel music
  • Christian rock
  • VeggieTales children's videos
  • The "Left Behind" book series
  • WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) jewelry
  • Christianity Today magazine
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    Related Topics: Faiths

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