"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
What are evangelicals? Why do we even have the term evangelical?
Our definition: Evangelicals are Christians who believe the Bible to be the word of God (there are differing versions of what this means in terms of reliability) and who attempt to live biblically within a non-biblical church structure but without recognizing that their structures are not biblical and without realizing that the structure has at least as much influence on their beliefs and actions as the bible.
Historically, evangelicalism arose as a reaction to liberalism, a movement that invaded western churches during the nineteenth century. It became fashionable within liberalism to attack the reliability of the bible. As a partial consequence of that attack, liberals moved towards social action as an expression of their faith.
Evangelicals, continuing their reaction, moved away from social action and retained the teaching of the bible as the main emphasis in their church activities, when they were not attacking liberalism, that is.
Latterly in the twentieth century, evangelicals softened their stand on the inerrancy of the bible and on social action. Today, liberalism is a fading flower and evangelicalism has become a very strange brew indeed. However, evangelicals are now in the forefront of social action but with limitations. The limitations are, in our opinion, due to the confusion over which part of Romans 12:2 they should install as their method, although the vast majority of evangelicals are not in the least aware of this.
Our instinct is that the entire Christian church is presently undergoing a stage of metamorphosis. This might mean that the present structures will harden, crack and be sloughed off with a new life emerging. Obviously, our job is not to attempt to drag the life out of the old structure because that would threaten the developing life within and would be a mould pressing exercise anyway.
Also in our opinion, the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world is brought on because the Christians are identified by their structures and their political alliances rather than because of their love of God through Jesus Christ, their love for each other and their love for those who are outside. We cannot help but wonder how much more effective and durable Christianity would be without the non-biblical structures and the confusion and competition they inevitably spawn.
With a discussion group of 4 to 12 people (not necessarily all Christians) take a zero-based look at those characteristics of currently practiced Christianity and list those which actually influence the non-church world for Jesus Christ.