Definition of evangelical
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 17:15:23 -0500
I was interested in the various definitions of "evangelical"
offered. Some years ago Jim Packer wrote a book
"Fundamentalism and the Word of God". I read it when I was
new to the faith and so maybe I will be misquoting him. But
I understood Packer to define three broad types of
"authority" for faith. He suggested that the evangelical
gave ultimate authority to scripture; for the liberal our
own intellect surpassed the authority of scripture; and the
catholic was more inclined to accept the authority of
tradition. This was argued from a historical perspective.
Packer also suggested that those who place final authority
in scripture get ridiculed and characatured; so what was
once a "pilgrim" was later a "fundementalist", and later
still an "evangelical". Some 20 years after I read Packer's
book I find myself very uncomfortable with the American
characature of "evangelical" (right wing, conservative,
pro-guns, pro-death penalty, rabidly anti-abortion etc etc);
but still comfortable with the term in U.K. (probably due to
the excellent work of the Evangalical Alliance in U.K.).
I have to say that I prefer George and Bob's definitions.
But it interesting how differently the word may be defined.
And its final connotation may be very different from any