In this election cycle, perhaps more than ever, the term “evangelical” is being used as though it is synonymous for conservative Republican. This is political spin at its best. The term evangelical, when used as an adjective, originally meant the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ; stemming from the Greek word “evangelion.”
Matthew 4:23 says Jesus went about…preaching the evangelion of the kingdom of God…; Mark 16:15 says …the kingdom of God is at hand…repent and believe the evangelion; Luke 4:18 says, …The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, …he hath anointed me to preach the evangelion to the poor. When used as a noun, the term referred to those who fervently and ardently believed and shared their belief in Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father, (see Ephesians 4:11 and II Timothy 4:5).
The spin factor employed by the media today reduces the word to mean none of what it was intended to mean, yet mainline Protestants and denominational heads wear the term proudly.
The pundits and pollsters have figured out that most Americans who are religious are astonishingly ignorant of what they believe. In the late 1970’s, the term began to be used to define Christians who held to a conservative interpretation of the Bible. Today it means conservative Republican, which, in case you don’t already know it, connotes a viewpoint of opposing entitlement programs for the poor, tax breaks for the rich, and tax increases for the middle class. It means denigrating the president, who says he is a Christian, and who without a doubt God allowed to rise to the seat of power of the free world.
Having been a matriculating Bible student for twelve years, having served as a pastor, church planter, and a missionary domestically and internationally for the past three decades, I submit to you that very few people who say they are Christian understand what they believe, why they believe it, or how to explain what they believe with scripture. As a consequence, the media can manipulate and persuade them as cunningly and craftily as the serpent did in the Garden of Eden. Being involved with a wide-ranging and diverse body of churches, I was appalled by the discussions I heard shortly after the last presidential election. In some churches, the topic was centered on how to convert more people, not to Christianity, but to the Republican Party! In other churches, the focus was on celebrating the Democratic victory. The gospel of Christ teaches us, as the church, to make Disciples of Christ and nothing else. Matthew 28:18-20 says “as you go, make disciples.” If the church stuck to making disciples of Christ, the disciples would make more prudent, Christ-centered political choices.
The term evangelical has lost its meaning within Christian churches, and even among the most frequent church goers. Today it means writing a check to a missions organization or agency, instead of being personally involved in sharing one’s faith. In other words, it means sending someone else, rather than being a witness yourself. It means hating the ungodliness we see in others at work, at home, and in the market place, but never telling those who are lost about the Christ who changed our lives and our eternal destiny. I indeed support mission agencies, I have operated one since 1991, but it is no substitute for personal evangelism on the part of everyone who names the Lord Jesus Christ as savior. Jesus says in Acts 1:8 “ye shall be my witnesses.” Paul says, in II Corinthians 5:20 “we are ambassadors for Christ.” The church should proclaim
Christ…not a political affiliation.
I am concerned for our country, the greatest nation in human history, because world history teaches us that the fall of a nation is often preceded by either the failure of the Christian church to make disciples, or the rejections of the Christian church by the masses. I’m convinced that there is no good news in the future of America, regardless of who is elected, if the Christian church does not get back to work making disciples, and then getting those disciples out of their seats and into the streets with the evangelion of Christ.
Robert L Williams