Some in the Emerging conversation, and perhaps more than some, would call themselves “post-Evangelical.” This raises a question: In what sense are they “post” Evangelical?

I will give four possible meanings, suggest that not all are using the term the same way, and see if maybe we can help shed some light on this issue.

By the way, we had one of the “plane trips from the rhetorically functional” place last night. Got to the airport plenty early, got to the gate, waited and read and then read some more. Were told the plane was delayed because of “weather” in Chicago. Then told the whole flight had been cancelled. So, we then had to stand in line for more than an hour to get re-booked, which was for 6:20am this morning. Which meant about at 4am wake-up. Well, we got that flight and are now home, but with more than a little fogginess in the head!

Maybe this will be foggy, but I hope not.

First, some use “post” Evangelical for those who were at one time Evangelical but who have now either “seen the light and moved on” or who see they have simply moved on. A good example would be Gordon Lynch, Losing My Religion.

Second, some use “post” Evangelical for those who have moved on to “liberalism” in some sense (mainline Christian faith).

Third, some use “post” Evangelical for those who are seeking for a new kind of Christian faith that transcends their former evangelical faith but which embraces it as the foundation of what they believe and who they are.

Finally, and I believe this to be the case for many within the Emerging movement, some use “post” Evangelical for those who are transcending the foundations upon which, or the intellectual ground upon which, the distinction between “liberal” and “fundamentalist/evangelical” was founded. In other words, they see the possibility of a Christian faith that is neither liberal nor fundamentalist/evangelical, but which takes from both expression, and moves on. In this sense, it adheres to an articulation of the faith that takes as its primary conversation partner the Bible as Word of God but which knows that in this day the expression of the faith will no longer be what it was in the days when liberalism and fundamentalism/evangelicalism held sway. A good example of this may be found in Doug Pagitt, Reimagining Spiritual Formation.

More from Beliefnet and our partners