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Alley Kammer
Professor Bacote
Gospel Church and Culture
17 September 2012

There are many phrases that come to mind upon hearing the word evangelical. Some
people may be reminded of Billy Graham, a famous TV evangelist who brought many people to
Christ via large, televised gatherings. Others may think of an overly conservative Republican
who is hateful towards people who believe in pro-choice. As a whole, the true definition of an
evangelical has become a skewed gray area in the viewpoint of society. There are many people
whose reaction upon hearing the word evangelical is to think of hypocrite, crazy, and/or
Bible-thumper. So much of what the world perceives an evangelical to be today has been
developed largely on behalf of a select few who have given a face to Evangelicalism. This poses
a question, that as Christians living in the twenty-first century we must try to answer to the best
of our ability: What really is an evangelical?
First, and foremost, Evangelicalism is not a denomination, but rather a blanket term that
engulfs a number of different traditions and a range of opinions on a few unwavering
foundational beliefs. An evangelical is a person who takes everything they read with a grain of
salt. It is a person who is constantly allowing God to take hold of their perspectives of His
gospel and allowing Him to be the center of their life. Thus, if we are serious about following
Jesus, we must rethink much of our inherited understanding in the light of what Jesus said and

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did (Danaher 1). An evangelical takes all things to God in prayer. According to The Norton
Dictionary of Modern Thought, there are four main principles that all evangelicals have in
common. These tenets of evangelicalism ask that Christians who are evangelical place an
emphasis on spreading the gospel, proclaim the words and stories of the bible as true, make
Christ the center of their faith, and recognize the importance of the encounter with Christ that
determines when they except Him as their savior, and in turn, accept His gift of salvation.
Evangelicalism was founded on fundamentalist principals, but take on a more accepting attitude
in regards to the finer details surrounding ones particular beliefs on the accepted subject matter.
(For some, the aspect of evangelizing is a determining factor of Christianity, and for others, they
prefer to live quietly by example. Both sides could find biblical support for their lifestyles, but
Evangelicalism blankets both types of Christians and offers acceptance under the foundational
goal of living as Jesus did.)
Evangelicalism is a constantly changing idea surrounding the Christian walk. There are
some who identify with the term and are not even certain of its historical background or the
principles that accompany the word, while others follow steadfastly to its four main principles.
Ultimately, its important to remember that above all we should follow Christ and the Word of
God and share that lifestyle of love with others.

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Alcorn, Randy. "Does the Word Evangelical Mean Anything Anymore?" Web log post. EPM.
EternalPerspective Ministries, 15 July 2011. Web. 17 Sept. 2012.
<http://www.epm.org/blog/2011/Jul/15/does-word-evangelical-mean anythinganymore>.
Bullock, Alan, and Stephen Trombley. "Evangelical." The Norton Dictionary of Modern
Thought. NewYork: W.W. Norton, 1999. Print
Danaher, James P. "Theology In The 21St Century." Evangelical Review Of Theology 35.2
(2011): 111-121. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 7 Sept. 2012.
Luhrmann, T. M. "When the Almighty Talks Back." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones &
Company, Inc., 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 7 Sept.2012.<http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB1
Marsden, George M. Fundamentalism and American Culture. New ed. New York: Oxford UP,
2006. Print.
What Is An Evangelical? Dir. Phil Ryken. YouTube. TheGospelCoalition, 10 Sept. 2008. Web.
17 Sept.2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAT9bz19kH4>.