I stumbled on a fantastic document defining what true evangelical faith is defined as. Its called "An Evangelical Manifesto" and has been accepted by most every evangelical group. Funny, because it seems most modern american evangelicals don't really have a grasp on this. This is almost what I have called (re)vangelical Christianity. May we return to these definitions of our Evangelical faith.
Taken from "An Evangelical Manifesto" (Read it HERE)
First, to be Evangelical is to hold a belief that is also a devotion. Evangelicals adhere fully to the Christian faith expressed in the historic creeds of the great ecumenical councils of the church, and in the great affirmations of the Protestant Reformation, and seek to be loyal to this faith passed down from generation to generation. But at its core, being Evangelical is always more than a creedal statement, an institutional affiliation, or a matter of membership in a movement. We have no supreme leader, and neither creeds nor tradition are ultimately decisive for us. Jesus Christ and his written word, the Holy Scriptures, are our supreme authority; and whole-hearted devotion, trust, and obedience are our proper response.
Second, Evangelical belief and devotion is expressed as much in our worship and in our deeds as in our creeds. As the universal popularity of such hymns and songs as “Amazing Grace” attests, our great hymn writers stand alongside our great theologians, and often our commitment can be seen better in our giving and our caring than in official statements. What we are about is captured not only in books or declarations, but in our care for the poor, the homeless, and the orphaned; our outreach to those in prison; our compassion for the hungry and the victims of disaster; and our fight for justice for those oppressed by such evils as slavery and human trafficking.
Third, Evangelicals are followers of Jesus in a way that is not limited to certain churches or contained by a definable movement. We are members of many different churches and denominations, mainline as well as independent, and our Evangelical commitment provides a core of unity that holds together a wide range of diversity. This is highly significant for any movement in the network society of the information age, but Evangelicalism has always been diverse, flexible, adaptable, non-hierarchical, and taken many forms. This is true today more than ever, as witnessed by the variety and vibrancy of Evangelicals around the world. For to be Evangelical is first and foremost a way of being devoted to Jesus Christ, seeking to live in different ages and different cultures as he calls his followers to live.
Fourth, as stressed above, Evangelicalism must be defined theologically and not politically; confessionally and not culturally. Above all else, it is a commitment and devotion to the person and work of Jesus Christ, his teaching and way of life, and an enduring dedication to his lordship above all other earthly powers, allegiances and loyalties. As such, it should not be limited to tribal or national boundaries, or be confused with, or reduced to political categories such as “conservative” and “liberal,” or to psychological categories such as “reactionary” or “progressive.”
Fifth, the Evangelical message, “good news” by definition, is overwhelmingly positive, and always positive before it is negative. There is an enormous theological and cultural importance to “the power of No,” especially in a day when “Everything is permitted” and “It is forbidden to forbid.” Just as Jesus did, Evangelicals sometimes have to make strong judgments about what is false, unjust, and evil. But first and foremost we Evangelicals are for Someone and for something rather than against anyone or anything. The Gospel of Jesus is the Good News of welcome, forgiveness, grace, and liberation from law and legalism. It is a colossal Yes to life and human aspirations, and an emphatic No only to what contradicts our true destiny as human beings made in the image of God.
Sixth, Evangelicalism should be distinguished from two opposite tendencies to which Protestantism has been prone: liberal revisionism and conservative fundamentalism. Called by Jesus to be “in the world, but not of it,” Christians, especially in modern society, have been pulled toward two extremes. Those more liberal have tended so to accommodate the world that they reflect the thinking and lifestyles of the day, to the point where they are unfaithful to Christ; whereas those more conservative have tended so to defy the world that they resist it in ways that also become unfaithful to
Seventh, Evangelicalism is distinctive for the way it looks equally to both the past and the future. In its very essence, Evangelicalism goes back directly to Jesus and the Scriptures, not just as a matter of historical roots, but as a commitment of the heart and as the tenor of its desire and thought; and not just once, but again and again as the vital principle of its way of life. To be Evangelical is therefore not only to be deeply personal in faith, strongly committed to ethical holiness in life, and marked by robust voluntarism in action, but to live out a faith whose dynamism is shaped unashamedly by truth and history.
Yet far from being unquestioning conservatives and unreserved supporters of tradition and the status quo, being Evangelical means an ongoing commitment to Jesus Christ, and this entails innovation, renewal, reformation, and entrepreneurial dynamism, for everything in every age is subject to assessment in the light of Jesus and his Word. The Evangelical principle is therefore a call to self-examination, reflection, and a willingness to be corrected and to change whenever necessary. At the same time, far from being advocates of today’s nihilistic “change for change’s sake,” to be Evangelical is to recognize the primacy of the authority of Scripture, which points us to Jesus, and so to see the need to conserve a form behind all re-form.
We therefore regard reason and faith as allies rather than enemies, and find no contradiction between head and heart, between being fully faithful on the one hand, and fully intellectually critical and contemporary on the other. Thus Evangelicals part company with reactionaries by being both reforming and innovative, but they also part company with modern progressives by challenging the ideal of the-newer-the-truer and the-latest-is-greatest and by conserving what is true and right and good. For Evangelicals, it is paradoxical though true that the surest way forward is always first to go back, a “turning back” that is the secret of all true revivals and reformations.
In sum, to be Evangelical is earlier and more enduring than to be Protestant. Seeking to be Evangelical was the heart of the Protestant Reformation, and what gives the Reformation its Christian validity for us is its recovery of biblical truth. In some countries Evangelical is still synonymous with Protestant. Yet it is clear that the term Evangelical, and the desire to be biblical, both predate and outlast the Protestant project in its historical form, for the word protest has increasingly lost its original positive meaning of “witnessing on behalf of” (pro-testantes), and the term Protestant is more and more limited to a historical period. Other labels come and go, but the Evangelical principle that seeks to be faithful to the Good News of Jesus and to the Scriptures will always endure.
What do you think? Do you agree with this manifesto?
Grace & Peace-