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

oh, that is something… However, that’s enough of a common experience, even here, that there is a joke that a surgeon got revenge on his contractor. He got to take him to the operating room, opened him up, and told him he would be back sometime soon. @Colin might enjoy that as he is a surgeon I think.
I think it varies from place to place. My father-in-law is supervisor of Maintenance at a hospital in Togo. They can produce things a lot cheaper over there, and the local population benefits a lot from working there. It’s a completely different situation.

Yes! :facepunch::+1::clap:

First of all, I know that the situation with short-term missions is far more nuanced that what I’ve laid out. I even understand that Paul could be described, at least at times, as a short-term missionary. Nevertheless I generally support long-term career missionaries, and missionary agencies that emphasize developing indigenous leadership and getting out, like HeartCry. My gut response to a request for support of a short term mission is to question motives and priorities. Sometimes I’m wrong!

PS I also shared that link for the millennial missionaries with my missionary committee last year. They loved it.

You’re totally right. sorry. I was just musing, because I also strongly question short Term missionaries now. I really don’t know what the answer is. Sorry if I stuck my foot in my mouth. Thanks for your patience. Indigenous missions is also a great idea.

Understood. Work ethics and other components of getting a job done have vastly different standards in large parts of the world than we are used to. I can imagine the frustration. (I get annoyed when the cable guy is 30 minutes late.)

And my kids learned a lot in short term mission trips, and both participated in missions and one lived in North Africa for 4 years or so on mission, so you just have to realize it is education for them to a great extent. So long as their mission field is not Oahu.

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now that is awesome. that’s right, you told me that once. thank you for that.

Sounds like New Mexico. Seen on a tee-shirt: Not Really New, Not Really Mexico

Just because it deserves to be repeated …

True and true.

An example that always comes to mind was the three-day weekend “revivals” that would come into juvenile detention once or twice a year. The same folks who would show up to hold hands with the kids and pray for their salvation would also cross to the other side of the street if they ran into them in “the free.” Something is wrong with this picture.


I should probably amend my comment here to specify that this probably applies more to white evangelicals. From what I’ve seen, evangelicals of color (though fewer in number) tend to be more vocal about systematic injustice since they are more likely to be on the other side of it than those who are white and middle class.


very good…

You nailed it.

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I’m listening to Tim Keller about missionary work, “Answering Lesslie Newbigin” at Princeton. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0LG26k6ngs. He talks about missions–“unless you are able to confront the idols of the culture, you are not engaging in missions.” Newbigin criticized both mainline and evangelicals, the latter because evangelicals seemed to hold on to the idea that if you’re poor, it’s your fault. Interesting discussion


I’ve heard it said … it’s a fine thing to keep rescuing drowning folks out of the river, but eventually it’s not a misplaced interest to investigate who or what upstream is throwing all these people in the water in the first place.


Russell Moore commented on the role of Christians in regard to social justice here. Skye Jethani and Phil Vischer interviewed him .Quite encouraging. https://relevantmagazine.com/culture/dr-russell-moore-had-a-scathing-reaction-to-the-recent-anti-social-justice-statement-signed-by-hundreds-of-christians/

Frankly… it looks very much like they find these “systems of injustice” as a useful tool for evangelism. As long as there are the poor and less fortunate then they can play the hero with physical salvation in one hand and spiritual salvation in the other. I cannot help but notice that the Marxists had the exact same idea… they opposed fixing injustices because they needed those inequities to motivate people to support a communist revolution.

Honestly, I doubt that most people have thought it through to that extent – I think many just absorb the attitudes of the culture around them. It’s likely there will always be people among us who are “less fortunate,” whether financially, or dealing with addictions, broken relationships, and other misfortunes – not everything can be fixed systematically. But that’s why I think we should have balance – focusing on both the personal and the systematic, rather than ignoring the systematic or acting like it doesn’t affect things.


Boy you all went and had the most interesting discussion while I was on vacation. I was just about to start a thread on what “evangelical” means exactly to evangelical Christians. Then this thread popped up and I read it. @Randy, your Rauser quotes had me scratching my head. I had assumed that an “evangelical” would first and foremost be about evangelizing, meaning in my mind to proselytize. But then when the conversation turned to missionary work (and especially short term experiences for young people), it seemed as though that was as much about instilling concern for others as it was about proselytizing the faith. @mitchellmckain brought up the difference between initial meaning and acquired meanings. Perhaps it is rooted in fundamentalism? I think now my desire to get clarity on the meaning of that word in the context of Christianity was probably more than a little naive. People are complex, all types of people. All I can say, is I hope my question isn’t ever on any test I have to take.

  • Confused in Berkeley
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…and while I was in the midst of an intense transition from life in Chad toward life back in the US of A! [Edit to add] Thanks for bringing this one back to the top of the pile, @MarkD, so those of us who were absent could chime in!

@Christy, @Chris_Falter, @Randy, @jay313, & @mitchellmckain:

I wonder what all these anti-social-justice preachers would think of someone like me, who first heard the term “social justice” in an Evangelical church context in 1997, before “social justice” became a cultural buzzword. I was taught about social justice by a faithful Evangelical Korean-American pastor using the minor prophets and teachings of Jesus as texts, not from the works of Marxist feminist blogistas.

Gosh, what to do with that? It doesn’t really fit the narrative…


I recently ran across a blogger who kept talking about SJW’s, and I was mystified until I finally picked up enough context clues to realize it was “Social Justice Warriors” that he was so worked up about. It looks to me like the evangelical Republicans want to paint “social justice” as a liberal – hence “unbiblical” – concern.

Thank God for your Korean-American pastor. My own story is that I backed into “social justice” without ever hearing the term, or at least without it registering on my conscious mind. In any case, by the early 2000s, I was sick of end-times “prophets” and Culture Warriors saying that God was going to judge this country for its sins – abortion, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, etc. The usual suspects.

I decided to study the issue using God’s judgments on Israel as a biblical “test case,” and I found something quite different. God’s “case” against Israel always came down to these elements: 1) Unfaithfulness to YHWH and his covenant, 2) Corrupt and dishonest judges, 3) Violence/bloodshed, and 4) Exploitation of the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the stranger (i.e., “the least among us”). This theme isn’t found just in the minor prophets, but in the “majors,” as well. Unfortunately, the prophets are the least-read part of the Bible, so just to make these themes clear, I offer a few examples from Isaiah and Jeremiah:

“Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.”

– Isaiah 58:1-10

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.

“When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?

Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

– Isaiah 1:11-20

Thus says the Lord: “Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates! Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David. But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,” says the Lord, “that this house shall become a desolation.”’”

– Jeremiah 22:1-5

My final point: God brought his judgment of the flood upon mankind because of sin. And what, exactly, was the sin that invited his wrath? Genesis 6:11-13 spells it out: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.” If anything, it is America’s love affair with guns and violence that invites God’s judgment upon us; sex has nothing to do with it.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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