Monday, March 21, 2016

what is an evangelical, part 2


For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV)

Closer to our own time, Dr. Leon Morris, founding member of the Evangelical Alliance (Victoria, Australia), uses the verse above to explain what evangelicalism is. Here are some highlights from an article he wrote... 


"An evangelical is a gospel man, a gospel woman. 'Evangelical' derives from 'evangel' : 'gospel'. By definition an evangelical is someone concerned for the gospel. This means more than that he preaches the gospel now and then. It means that for him the gospel of Christ is central. It is, of course, his message and he preaches it, constantly. But it is more than a subject of preaching. The gospel is at the centre of his thinking and living.  The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of the gospel he had brought them by saying that it is of the first importance that 'Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures' (1 Cor.15:3). It seems to me that everything that matters to the evangelical arises from this basic proposition...
"The evangelical does not put his trust in human endeavors. He is a pessimist. He sees that dictatorships of the left and dictatorships of the right alike end up in oppression. He sees that democracies all too often end up in muddle and soulless bureaucracy. He will do his best to make any system work, but his trust is not in systems. Every system has to work on the raw material of sinners. The evangelical is clear-sighted about this. That man is a sinner puts a firm limit on his ability to do good...
"Confronted with the cross I may respond and turn to Christ in faith and love. Or I may harden my heart. To respond to Christ's love is to become a different person. The whole set of the life is changed. Evangelicals have always insisted on the necessity for conversion. This may happen in one sudden, blinding experience (as with Saul of Tarsus). Or it may happen gradually (as with Timothy). The time is immaterial. The turning is everything. And it happens to all who come to Christ. The evangelical despairs of no one. The evangelical is an optimist...
"Evangelicals have always put a great emphasis on the place of the Bible. This has not been out of perverse dogmatism, but from a profound conviction that it is important to the Christian faith... 
"Christianity is a historical religion in a way that no other religion is. Unless we have access to the facts we are cut off from our roots. And our access is by way of 'the Scriptures'. They are the means God has given us to bring us the gospel. So evangelicals have always thankfully received this good gift of God and have regarded it as of the utmost importance that we have a Bible on which we can rely. They point to the express teaching of our Lord himself and to that of the apostles. And they point to the necessity for the facts of the gospel to be reliably attested...
"There are other things that evangelicals hold. I am not giving an exhaustive list of evangelical convictions. I am saying that they all stem from the evangel. The whole system of the evangelical is the outworking of the gospel. With whatever blunderings and mistakes the evangelical tries to unfold the implications of salvation through the cross and to live by them. The evangelical man or woman is, above all else, a product, and a bearer of the gospel." 
(Excerpts taken from "What do we mean by 'evangelical'"? by Dr. Leon Morris.) 

See "What Is An Evangelical, Part 1".

Also, three addresses that Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave in 1971, "What Is An Evangelical", are also helpful.  Kevin DeYoung gives a summary of these in his blog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.  


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