Shall we start to use the phrase "Evangelical Evolutionists" ? (EE's)

(George Brooks) #1

In a personal communication, @Eddie raised an interesting point when I was rather casually differentiating between BioLogos people vs. Evangelicals.

As BioLogos continues to win support from the Evangelical community, we need to start validating and referencing the existence of Pro-Evolution Evangelicals.

Would we call them EE’s ? - - Evangelical Evolutionists? @Christy, any opinions on this?

Naturally we need to recognize the possibility that there will be Christian supporters of BioLogos who do not consider themselves as Evangelicals… or at the very least, are not recognized as such by OTHER camps of Christian supporters of BioLogos.

Other than the position on Evolution… what truly distinguishes the Evangelical from the NON-Evangelical?

(Phil) #2

Interesting topic, especially as many evangelicals are hesitant to use the term since it has been used in association with various political candidates.

(Christy Hemphill) #3

I don’t see the need for a proliferation of labels. What is wrong with “Evangelicals who accept evolution”? How many group identities and sub-identities are really necessary?

I like Roger Olson’s explanation:

[quote]What do fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals and postfundamentalist/postconservative evangelicals have in common? Much.

All of us, as evangelical Protestant Christians, believe in 1) the supreme authority of inspired Scripture for faith and practice, 2) basic Christian orthodoxy as embodied in the consensus of the church fathers and reformers about the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, etc., 3) a supernatural worldview, 4) salvation by God’s grace through faith alone, 5) personal conversion as normative for authentic Christianity, 6) the cross of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation and as vicarious atonement, 7) the virgin birth, resurrection and visible return of Jesus Christ.

The distinctive hallmarks of post-1925 fundamentalism are 1) adding to those essentials of Christianity non-essentials such as premillennial eschatology, 2) “biblical separation” as the duty of every Christian to refuse fellowship with people who call themselves Christians but are considered doctrinally or morally impure, 3) a chronically negative and critical attitude toward culture including non-fundamentalist higher education, 4) emphatic anti-evolution, anti-communist, anti-Catholic and anti-ecumenical attitudes and actions (including elevation of young earth creationism and American exceptionalism as markers of authentic Christianity), 5) emphasis on verbal inspiration and technical inerrancy of the Bible as necessary for real Christianity (including exclusion of all biblical criticism and, often, exclusive use the KJV), and 6) a general tendency to require adherence to traditional lifestyle norms (hair, clothes, entertainment, sex roles, etc.).

How did the postfundamentalist evangelicals differ from them? Beginning in the 1940s and increasingly throughout the 1950s former self-identified fundamentalists began to shy away from that identity and ethos without embracing liberalism or neo-orthodoxy. They 1) sought to establish ecumenical cooperation and fellowship among evangelicals who disagreed about non-essentials such as eschatology and predestination [“generous orthodoxy”], 2) sought to be cautiously open to secular culture and higher education and its products, and 3) sought to overcome legalism that had become characteristic of much fundamentalism. (…)

The new evangelicalism was to be a broad tent that included everyone from conservative Presbyterians to Pentecostals to Advent Christians to Nazarenes to (recently) the Worldwide Church of God. Fundamentalists were invited to join but declined. Still, formally speaking, fundamentalists are evangelicals and, to liberals, anyway, all evangelicals are fundamentalists.


(George Brooks) #4

If we can accept the working definition of Evangelicals who Believe in Evolution, then I would suggest that SIX of SEVEN common elements are the most reasonable to apply to the definition of “Evangelical”:

  1. the supreme authority of inspired Scripture for faith and practice, [< But not necessarily inerrancy!!]

  2. basic Christian orthodoxy as embodied in the consensus of the church fathers and reformers about the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, etc., [< it is reasonable for Unitarians to be excluded from the category of Evangelical!]

  3. a supernatural worldview, [< this could include God intervening in the natural process of evolution]

  4. salvation by God’s grace through faith alone, [Perhaps the very core of Evangelical views]

  5. personal conversion as normative for authentic Christianity, [< and what makes Evangelicals very different in behavior from other Christian groupings]

  6. the cross of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation and as vicarious atonement, [^ Is this really so imporant?]

  1. the virgin birth, resurrection and visible return of Jesus Christ.
    [^ I suppose this is worth including.]

(Christy Hemphill) #5

You can still be all “love wins” if you want to be. Some people argue you can be atoned for without your explicit knowledge, it’s just Jesus who has to do it.

(Preston Garrison) #6

Whatever word you attach “ist” to, it has come to imply that that is an idealogical or faith commitment. (“Creationist”, “atheist”, “theist” - you get the idea. Many YECs say “evolutionist” with a particular animosity that they reserve for an idealogical opponent.) So I would say “evolutionary creationist” is preferable, since the commitment to the idea of creation is a matter of faith. You can put “evangelical” on the beginning if you want to get the really important stuff in, the gospel, which is what “evangelical” means, after all.

(Amy Chai) #7

I would not say that “evolution” distinguishes Evangelicals from non-Evangelicals. I think that literalism distinguishes literalists from non-literalists. Please do not conflate fundamentalism with literalism, because it actually is not the same thing. A fundamentalist is someone who places full trust in “sola scriptura” for faith and life. It is the belief that the scriptures (be they Bible, Quran, Vedas, or whatever) are the ultimate authority. Branching off from fundamentalisms will be the exegetical frameworks used. If you are a literalist fundamentalist Christian, the closest you will get is the Mennonite community (not Amish) because the Mennonite community is highly literalist. There are fundamentalists who use careful exegesis to frame their scriptural authority. Most of the time, there is a “plain meaning” interpretation, but there is also an understanding of historical context that fleshes it out, although sometimes there is not a lot of humility about the possibility of getting things wrong. I consider myself more of a Fundamentalist than an Evangelical. Anyway, my take is that we do not need more “labels” for people. And “Christian Science” is already taken, lol. I can still recall the looks I got as a kid from people at church when I announced I wanted to become a “Christian scientist.”

(George Brooks) #8


So would it be safe to say that there may be Evangelicals who are pro-Evolution … but NO Fundamentalists?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #9

I’m curious what you based this observation on (are there statistics available?). Or are you a Mennonite yourself and this reflects your own community experience?

I have the impression that there is a fair amount of diversity all up and down the spectrum on this even in our small denomination at least in the U.S. But I would be surprised if those that self-identified as “literalists” made a much greater percentage than found in the evangelical world at large (especially since you excluded the Amish). I do know that African, and Central and South American Mennonites tend to be very conservative, though; which is why I’m curious to hear more about where your observation comes from.

(Amy Chai) #10

No, because like I said I am a fundamentalist.
I think it is safe to say that there are no “literalists” who will consider evolution. As I mentioned, there are fundamentalists that are not “literalists” who would be very adamant about “sola scriptura” but yet would be open to the idea that their understanding of scripture might allow more thoughtful exegesis. I think people confuse the word, “fundamentalist” with KGV only “literalist” but the two are not the same.

(system) #11

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