Monday, January 23, 2006

Wherein I Claim to Be an Evangelical

Pastor H posed the question in his sermon how many of the congregation would claim the descriptor “Evangelical”. He didn’t ask for a show of hands, but he speculated that a third might say “Yes, with qualifications”, a third would say “No way”, and a third would say “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I fall into the first category. I have no difficulties sharing my faith, and it is so important to me that I would have a hard time keeping quiet about it. I claim the adjective “Evangelical” with reservations because of the potential for misunderstanding that comes with a word that has become associated with the religious right. I would not want anyone to confuse me with the kind of evangelical that charges around proclaiming his own righteousness and judging everyone else as falling short of the glory of God. I am not the kind of evangelical that is hoping and waiting for God to break out his smiting stick. I am not disappointed, as Pastor H suggested some might be, that God is gracious.

Being a Calvinist takes the pressure out of evangelism. Knowing that God ordains who will believe and whom God will save means that I need not worry that my witnessing will be so ham handed that I will turn someone off and consign him to Hell through my negligence or poor people skills. I don’t see any need to sell my faith to others, but I will talk about it freely if you show any interest (and sometimes even if you don’t). I don’t have to try to work my faith into conversations unnaturally, and I don’t have to be overbearing about it. I find that people generally like to talk about spiritual matters, especially if you are respectful of their own beliefs and spiritual journey. I realize that I can’t prove that my beliefs are right (I am agnostic) or appropriate despite how profoundly I hold them, so I find it easy to acknowledge diverse of opinions and to talk about them.

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