What is an evangelical church?Question: "What is an evangelical church?"
Answer: An “evangelical” church can mean different things to different people. Some have a narrow application of the term evangelical in reference to the denomination called the Evangelical Church. Others use it broadly in reference to Protestant churches that continue to hold to the inerrancy of Scripture and salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. However, most commonly, the term evangelical refers to theologically conservative individuals or churches that affirm biblical inspiration and salvation as a personal faith experience in Jesus Christ.
The National Association of Evangelicals is a large network of American evangelical churches. They define the evangelical movement as one that holds to the following beliefs:
• Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a “born-again” experience and a lifelong process of following Jesus
• Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts
• Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority
• Crucicentrism: a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity
On the academic level, the Evangelical Theological Society defines an evangelical Christian scholar as one “devoted to the inerrancy and inspiration of the Scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ” (http://www.etsjets.org/about). While these scholars’ beliefs may vary greatly in other areas, they share a common commitment to Scripture, a Christ-centered gospel, and a Trinitarian view of God.
Some people view evangelicals as synonymous with fundamentalists. There is much overlap—fundamentalists and evangelicals share a theological conservatism but may diverge on matters of separation. Fundamentalists are usually known for being more conservative culturally.
Also, some view the evangelical church as a voting bloc to be identified in primarily political terms. While evangelicals are typically socially conservative due to their view of Scripture, evangelicals do not identify with a particular political party in the United States or elsewhere.
Ideally, evangelical churches are known for taking the Bible seriously, seeking to live by the teachings of Christianity, and sharing Christ in a wide variety of contexts.
Note: There is a denomination known as the Evangelical United Brethren Church that sometimes references to itself as the Evangelical Church. This article is not about that denomination, but rather is about evangelical churches in general.
Recommended Resource: Complete Guide to Christian Denominations: Understanding the History, Beliefs, and Differences by Ron Rhodes
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