What is an Evangelical? Am I one? Do I want to be one? asks Richard from Cyprus in GodWordThink: Evangelicals?
It’s a good question, because the word “evangelical” now has so many different meanings that it is difficult to know what people mean by it unless they define it each time they use it. It seems that secular journalists, especially in America, use it almost as a synonym for “fundamentalists”, yet not many years ago one of the big disputes between different Protestant groups in America was precisely the dispute between “Evangelicals” and “Fundamentalists”, who were at odds with each other on a variety of issues.
Richard in his post examines the differences between US and UK evangelicals. In part, these differences are cultural, but as Richard points out, they are also theological, and two groups of self-styled evangelicals seem to have quite different understandings of what they are, and what evangelicalism is.
In part the problem is that “evangelical” is basically an adjective that has been pressed into service as a noun, and the noun meanings are beginning to take over the adjectival ones. Orthodox Christians can easily describe their faith as “evangelical”, since it is based on the good news of Jesus Christ.