What Does It Mean To Be Evangelical?

The word evangelical comes from the Greek noun euangelion which means good news. The Greek verb euangelizomai means to announce or proclaim good news. These Greek words appear over 100 times in the New Testament (originally written in the common Greek of the first century), in references to telling people the "good news" or "gospel" about the coming of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

At the most basic level, to be evangelical means to be about the business of proclaiming the good news of Jesus.

However, the term evangelical has also taken on a theological meaning. Those Christians and Churches that describe themselves as Evangelical are making a statement about certain things they believe. In this sense, to be Evangelical means the following:

  • A high view of the Bible

Evangelicals regard the Bible as the divinely inspired record of God's revelation - the infallible, authoritative guide for faith and practice. The Scriputres are inerrent in all they affirm and serve as the adequate, normative, and wholly reliable expression of God's will and purpose.

  • A low view of people's innate goodness

Evangelicals believe in the 'doctrine of the total depravity of man.' This says that people were originally created perfect, but a decision by the first man and woman to rebel against God saw sin enter the human race, and this spiritual infection has been passed on from generation to generation.

  • You must respond to the Gospel personally

Evangelicals believe that salvation (reconciliation with God) is an act of unmerited divine grace received through faith in Christ, not through any kind of effort or work. Christians are saved when they believe that the death of Jesus on a cross around 2,000 years ago paid the penalty they deserve to pay for their sins. They are saved, kept and empowered to live a life of service.

Heralding the Word of God is an important feature of evangelicalism. The vehicle of God's Spirit is the biblical proclamation of the gospel which brings people to faith.

  • Jesus will return

Evangelicals look for the visible, personal return of Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom of righteousness - a new heaven and earth - one that will never end. This will consumate the judgment upon the world and the salvation of the faithful.

It should be stressed that these are special emphases of evangelicals and that they share many beliefs with other 'orthodox Christians.' Among them are the Trinity; Christ's incarnation; virgin birth; bodily resurrection; the realities of miracles and the supernatursal realm; the church as the body of Christ; the sacraments as signs of grace; immortality of the soul; and the final resurrection of the dead.

These beliefs are reflected in the FECA Statement of Faith and express not only certain doctrines from the Bible that we hold dear, but are a call to action for Christians to share their faith in Jesus so that others will come to know Him as their Saviour and Lord.

 

Source: Evangelical Dictionary of Theology