Why does the word evangelical threaten so many people in our culture?
"For almost ten years, I have participated in a book group comprising people who attended the University of Chicago. Mostly we read current novels, with a preference for those authors (Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, J. M. Coetzee) who have a connection with the school. The group includes a Marxist-leaning professor of philosophy, a childhood-development specialist, a pharmaceutical researcher, a neurologist, and an attorney...."
Philip Yancey writes about a problem that has been troubling me for a long time -- every since I realized that I was an "evangelical" Christian. Many people assume that Evangelical = Fundamentalist = Right Wing = Narrow-minded = Anti-intellectual = Hate.
Nothing could be further from the truth, but it still jars me when I see people withdraw into their shells of prejudice when they hear me characterize myself as evangelical, even when they know me and know that I do not meet their stereotypes.
This is all the more ironic when one looks at the Book of Confessions and sees that there is nothing in our core beliefs that is at odds with what most evangelicals believe. It is my contention that, on paper at least, the PC(USA) is squarely within the evangelical tradition.
Yancy relates some of his interchanges with members of his book group, and how difficult it is to correct misconceptions. In the examples he gives, sweeping statements are made by scholars, but when asked for concrete examples, they fall silent.
In his final analysis, he asks rhetorically whether it is good idea to spend the massive amount of effort required to change society's perceptions, especially when it distracts us from our primary mission.