Posted on Tuesday 19 December 2006


  1. Also, e·van·gel·ic. pertaining to or in keeping with the gospel and its teachings.
  2. belonging to or designating the Christian churches that emphasize the teachings and authority of the Scriptures, esp. of the New Testament, in opposition to the institutional authority of the church itself, and that stress as paramount the tenet that salvation is achieved by personal conversion to faith in the atonement of Christ.
  3. designating Christians, esp. of the late 1970s, eschewing the designation of fundamentalist but holding to a conservative interpretation of the Bible.
  4. pertaining to certain movements in the Protestant churches in the 18th and 19th centuries that stressed the importance of personal experience of guilt for sin, and of reconciliation to God through Christ.
  5. marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause.
  6. an adherent of evangelical doctrines or a person who belongs to an evangelical church or party.

It comes from e·van·gel [eu·angel] which means true message, in Seminary language, the "good news." So evangelical is literally spreading the "good news." But sometimes the dictionaries just don’t get it quite right, in my humble opinion. What I think it has come to mean in modern America is:

"what I think is right and you’re not right until you think it too."

And while there is an implication that my wanting you to "think it too," is because it will be good for you, or be good for the world, even that seemingly benevolent reason for evangelicalism doesn’t stand up under close scrutiny. The Moslems and the European Catholics used conversion as a mechanism for conquest for centuries. Even our old friend, Machiavelli, thought it was a really good tool for consolidating power in the State. Moslems and Christians alike are convinced that their religion is the "true" religion. Jews believe that too, but are not evangelical about it. In fact, quite the opposite. The Eastern "religions" are more ways of living, and don’t seem to be particularly evangelical about things.

It’s a Christian term, from that last part of Mark [added in the 4th century] that says "go ye therefore, baptising them in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost." You know it’s a late add on, because it mentions the trinity which came centuries after Christ. But in everyday parlance, it means what I say it means. In Islam, there are "us" and "infidels." Christianity has a bunch of terms, but it comes down to "us" and "them." Politicians have picked it up of late, particularly the neoconservatives of the Project for the New American Century – evangelical American Democracy. That’s what they want us to think we’re doing in Iraq [when we’re not shooting Iraqis and trying to get control of their oil].

So, I guess what I’m saying here is that I’m not an evangelical. I don’t think that "what I think is right and you’re not right until you think it too." What I think is that there are lots of different interesting ways to think, and "evangelical" isn’t one of them. And as for "America is a Christian Nation" – Bah Humbug!

And as for Christmas. When I was a child, this meant something. It didn’t mean hate homosexuals [or anyone else], it didn’t mean punish pregnant girls with unwanted motherhood, it didn’t mean voting for war-mongers. It meant peace, love, and hope. It still means that to some of us…

    December 25, 2006 | 4:34 AM

    >>>There are lots of different interesting ways to think, and “evangelical” isn’t one of them.

    December 25, 2006 | 5:48 AM

    …I’d wear that, as a bumper-sticker. ~GJ, M.!

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