The Name Game
Mark DanielsMark Daniels's Weblog
- 2008 Jan 08
I’m at my wits’ end with “buzzwords.” Take the term, “evangelical.” The night of the
It’s not unusual for the media to use labels like “evangelical” and “religious right;” it provides convenient cover for our talking heads, and their general ignorance of who believers are, and how they think.
So Christians in the voting booth are now to be known as “evangelicals.” But what exactly does that word mean? Well, the “Wiktionary” online defines an “evangelical” as one who’s “part of a Protestant movement basing its theology almost entirely on Scripture, which is held to be ‘inerrant.” Well, that’s vague, but it’s a pretty good start. The “Free Dictionary” says that “evangelical” is “of, relating to, or being a Christian church believing in the sole authority and inerrancy of the Bible, in salvation only through regeneration (or re-birth), and in a spiritually transformed personal life.” Even better…but one has to wonder how many of the reported 60% of
But perhaps the strictest definition of “evangelical” is cast by pollster George Barna. His 7-point description claims that “evangelicals:”
1. Say their faith is very important in their life today;
2. Believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians;
3. Believe that Satan exists;
4. Believe that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works;
5. Believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth;
6. Assert that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and
7. Describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.
By these criteria, Barna estimates that only 8% of the population is truly evangelical—far fewer than the 60% the media was estimating in