What Does It Mean to Be an Evangelical? (Rauser)

that’s a possibility. I am not in favor of Macarthur for many reasons (other than as a Christian brother, like Anyabwile), but I’m trying not to label him :slight_smile:. I think Anyabwile and Christianity Today were emphatic but kind in disagreeing with him, if you get a chance to listen to the hour long podcast (my wife and I listened twice in the last 2 days). My first response was anger and disbelief towards Macarthur, but Anyabwile explained that he understood where he was coming from, but also very clearly where he was wrong. And I hope that sort of dialogue will be present in any sort of interaction between passionately opposed folks, Christian or otherwise–I have a lot to learn.

Yes. There are other churches that formed in opposition to gay marriage and the ordination of gays and women, even though individual parishes weren’t required to go in a liberal direction. One example is the “Anglican Church in North America.” They are usually part of the world wide Anglican communion, But these churches are never called simply Anglican in the USA.

High and Low in the Episcopal church usually refer to the style and practice of worship and have little to do with whether the parishioners are conservative or liberal. My own church is high church and the people are all over the map. They neither look alike nor vote alike.


Is the high church related to Anglo-Catholic theology?

An Anglo-Catholic church is usually high church.

Very much like you I have no problem with these but I have modified them a bit. I would say that my focus and voice on these issues is a direct consequence of the evangelical influence upon me.

Conversionism is the point on which I am weakest and it a problem more with personality than belief. I just don’t have either the ability or inclination to change other people – to a degree that can even be called debilitating. I have no salesmanship whatsoever. I am creative and make things like software and novels but I cannot motivate myself to do the work of selling them. Getting a job or going to an interview doesn’t work too well – I will not sell myself, but am more inclined to simply make an objective assessment on whether I am a good fit with what they need. Too many employers equate that with being an unmotivated worker, when this simply isn’t true. I also have a perfectionist personality, so when I do something I do my best to do it perfectly.


I am definitely more dismissive of inerrancy than Rauser is, and I also reject the idea that the Bible is infallible, self-interpreting, or the source of all truth on any topic. My Biblicism is more in my support for Sola Scriptura and the claim that the Bible is the word of God. Sola Scriptura simply means that the Bible is the only authority God has put into our hands concerning truth in Christianity. It is part of what defines the religion. That the Bible is the word of God means He wrote it and all the human authors and the history told are His writing instruments. This is in contrast to the very common formula that the Bible is simply inspired by God, which I say is a very weak claim, for I believe the inspiration of God rains down upon us in a torrent to be found in all books, art, and films. But that is mostly theoretical, the practical meaning is that God has all the proprietary rights and none of us should be altering it as we see fit.


Indeed! This is one of those issues on which I agree with the Eastern Orthodox and reject substitutionary atonement as a medieval literal interpretation of only one of the Biblical metaphors used for the atonement. You know this cannot rationally be accepted as literal because no sane person believe that a guilty person should go free if an innocent person is punished in their place. The truth of the metaphor remains in this: that when the innocent suffer for our mistakes then it motivates us to change. In such cases we might indeed say that they have paid the price for our redemption – but it isn’t literal as if that were really a valid form of justice.


There is no need to bring the liberals into this, God says it already right there in Isaiha chapter 1:
After 5 verses explain how He is sick and tired of ALL the trappings of religion, he says…
“cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

Thanks for your comments. Just to clarify, it’s actually Dr Randal Rauser, not myself, that I’m quoting :slight_smile: He’s a Bible school teacher in Edmonton, Canada who blogs at randalrauser.com/blog

A somewhat on-topic mild rant regarding evangelism:

I am all in favor of evangelism–but I have issues with how it is presented in many churches. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard well-meaning Christians (who are adept at evangelism) say to others, who are less inclined, “you need to get out of your comfort zone, and get out there!” I find that odd. I find it wrong. We don’t say “so you don’t like teaching? It scares you? Then you need to get out of your comfort zone and teach Sunday school!” Somehow we turn evangelism into the one thing that everybody should do, whether they want to or not, whether they are good at it or clumsy. Add we often use shame as the motivator. Don’t do that.

It’s as if when Paul penned Eph 4:11

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

He actually meant to write

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as pastors and teachers, but everybody as evangelists

The justification of this universal push is often the Great Commission from Matt 28:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations

but the rest of it is

baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

the point being that those advocating universal evangelism and justifying it with the Great Commission do not (in my experience) advocate a self-consistent exegesis that if the Great Commission is a command for everyone to evangelize then it is also a command for everyone to baptize. No-- the Great Commission (in my opinion) is a call for the church to evangelize and baptize, using the appropriately qualified people to carry out the task.


I don’t think the biblical metaphor of a substitutionary atonement is derived from the justice system but rather from the Jewish sacrificial system. The O.T. definitely had the idea of an innocent animal’s blood atoning for sins, the penalty for which was death. Maybe you could argue that a justice system metaphor (which is there in Scripture, with the idea of justification (acquittal) coming from the legal system of the day) was conflated with the Jewish sacrificial system metaphor of sacrificial substitutes and that is how the idea of penal substitutionary atonement came about.

Here’s a book you might like: http://drjohnsanders.com/books/atonement-and-violence/

I agree for the most part David, though sometimes we need a prod in the right direction. If we are ranting, however, let me add that my complaint is of going around giving tracts or reading a prepared testimony on a mission trip, and calling it evangelizing or ministering. I temper that by admitting that youth mission trips are more about training youth than helping the local folks, and also that the current generation of youth pastors have learned and are doing a much better job than some in the past.


Thanks for spelling that out – that makes so much sense. I’m a terrible evangelist. I think we do better encouraging everyone to love others, and if we do that well then some degree of “evangelism” may flow from that, but it will probably look different to different people.

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I can (believe it or not) rant about some aspects of mission work too. First and foremost I am not in favor of sending teens on short-term mission trips. To me the occupation of missionary is comparable in magnitude, scope, and importance to that of pastor. We don’t tell teens to be a pastor for a couple of weeks to see if it is “for them” and/or for their personal growth–but we send teens on mission trips for those reasons. I often think of these trips uncharitably in my mind as a form of Christian vacation. It also bothers me to think about spending several k$ to send a teen to hammer nails in a new church when, in most of these destinations, the same money could hire an entire crew of local adults trying to support families.


Christy, I agree with you to a large extent. However, the portrait you paint is incomplete. A very large group of evangelical pastors under John MacArthur’s leadership recently stated that social justice has nothing to do with the gospel. Large numbers of American evangelicals also subscribe to the Fox News position that climate change is a hoax. Large numbers of white evangelicals believe that racial reconciliation and equality was 100% achieved in the 60s, such that any claims to the contrary today are just bitterness and envy.

My goal is not to start a political argument. My claim is simply that evangelical tribalism extends beyond support for YEC into even more vital areas of life. I say that as a member of the tribe, too.



I wonder if the key phrase is “systems of injustice.” Many evangelicals are indeed very involved in giving and helping the poor and less fortunate, but I think perhaps evangelicals (especially fundamentalists) are less likely to acknowledge the systems that perpetuate these inequalities (maybe it’s easier for us to just chalk everything up to generic “sin”).


I know. I am saddened by many things prominent Evangelicals say. I just don’t think we should let it erase the fact that a huge number of Evangelical organizations are out there doing social justice work and Evangelicals are funding it. Many of the people who give to my mission organization faithfully to support the work we do would say they are against social justice. To them it represents coded political language. But the work we do has plenty of aspects I would personally frame in terms of social justice: We instill language pride in disenfranchised minority groups, we focus on literacy and social empowerment for women, we build capacity for economic mobility among the poor, we support culturally contextualized health and mental health initiatives, we educate about appropriate Christian responses to domestic abuse and sex trafficking.

My husband and I were just talking the other day about how some people we know say things things we consider racist or at least woefully ignorant. They are the opposite of “woke.” They have political views we find abhorrent. But they would absolutely be the first person to stop and help a black or Mexican person they saw in trouble on the side of the road. On the other hand, some of our more progressive friends who talk a very good talk on the abstract level would definitely cross to the other side of the road like the Levite and the priest in the Samaritan story. I don’t know what to make of that.

I am not trying to excuse Evangelicals who say stupid stuff by bringing up everything the people I know do. Words matter. But, I wish that before my progressive friends got up on their high judgey horse about how terrible the average Evangelical is because they don’t pay lip service to the same causes and ideas, they would look and see if they are busting their butts to help the widows and orphans and poor people. A lot of times they are. Of course I would love it if their actions were accompanied with rhetoric I approved of more and more sensitive terminology, but sometimes I wonder how much we are just policing what fork people eat with and not seeing their hearts at all.


Agree. this video by John Crist says it all.


Hilarious video! Art imitating life.


it certainly is funny, and it’s hyperbole. However, coming from a career missionary standpoint where my parents were long term third world missionaries, I certainly agree that our priorities are mixed up. However, if we were to compare instead the $2,000 we would spend on a trip to Cancun, a cruise, or another toy like a four-wheeler, it seems that a trip abroad to see where people are not as well off as we are, and to fellowship with other Christians, is at least educational. In some ways, it’s an inoculation against further, deep dedication, because one thinks that one’s done one’s job, but sometimes that’s not the case and does lead to deeper and harder work. I guess it boils down to asking how we can integrate Godly living into our day-to-day life in the first world, so that we realize that our brothers and sisters overseas, not just Believers but everyone, are suffering. I think World Vision and others are good mediums for that, but I have a lot to learn. My grandpa used to work for World Vision. He told me once about a man that deeply humbled him, because he gave such a large proportion of his income to the poor overseas. what do you think is a good solution? I imagine that if the United States and other first-world countries really dedicated a large proportion of their income to developing a third world, we would have a lot less war and even perhaps personal dissatisfaction. for example, recently, my wife and I really struggled about whether to purchase a used car. when my children and I go out, we try to set aside an equal amount of money that we used for ourselves to give to Someone who needs help.


I understand and share the frustration with teen mission trips, but let me share a little perspective. I hired a team of locals to build new cabinets and lay tile in the kitchen of the house we rent when we are not out in the rural village. We were going to be gone from the house for three months, so I set everything up with the carpenter and tile guy so that it could be completed when we returned. When we got back, all the old stuff had been ripped out, and the tile laid, but no cabinets, counter, or sink. Our handy man came and built me a makeshift sink base out of some of the garbage from the tear out so I could wash dishes. After two months of “I’m bringing them tomorrow” the carpenter confessed that he lost access to his dad’s woodworking shop where he had done work for us in the past because they had a falling out, he had given the sizeable down payment to some friends in another town who owned a wood shop, and they had all decided to close up shop and move back to their fields, and he didn’t know where they were. But, he would make it up to us someday (That was a year ago, we haven’t seen a dime). So we hired a different carpenter. He promised he would have the job done in six weeks. Nope, it was over five months before it was done. So I cooked and washed up in a construction-zone kitchen with no counters, and my pots and pans and whatnot in boxes on the floor, constantly packing and unpacking the whole kitchen for workers who only sometimes showed up on the days they said they were coming-- for ELEVEN MONTHS. It turned out about 85% what I asked for. It was a huge pain. This is par for the course, and exactly the reason why most of the missionaries I know try to get church groups to come do their house or church construction and repairs.

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(That’s why this Twitter thread amused me https://twitter.com/KelseyMLoo/status/1039463306040369154 )

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