11 thoughts on “What is an Evangelical?

  1. (Deep sigh) Why are the evangelistic and the need-fulfilling aspects of the gospel so often presented as “either-or” options? As Christians, we are called to proclaim the gospel and make disciples. We are also told that doing so is empty and “dead” if it is not backed up with real love in action and meeting physical and other needs (James 2 is particularly forceful on this point). These are not mutually exclusive commissions to the body of Christ!! We should be working together to accomplish all that we are supposed to accomplish.

    And yet there is a vocal segment among my fellow evangelicals who will angrily smack down every Christian who is especially burdened for the need-meeting aspect, derisively labeling them “liberal social justice warriors” and faulting them for not instead focusing on the spiritual evangelistic aspect of the gospel, and suggesting (or outright declaring) that they aren’t “really” Christians. It’s a false choice, a false dichotomy. It’s wrong, and it is one of the major problems that brings me to the brink of walking away from evangelicalism entirely.


    • Dave H.

      For purposes of discussion, let’s accept your dual thrust thesis on Evangelicalism. Specifically, believers can pursue social goals as well as spiritual goals. Mr, Compolo’s problem is that the spiritual side of the table was essentially nonexistent in the talk he gave.



  2. John,
    Mr. Compolo’s message was essentially “baptized” social work. Please don’t get me wrong. Social work has its place ; I am for it, but it is not a substitute for the scriptural Gospel. Tony has been around the Church long enough to know all of the “Jesus” words and “God” words using them only as jumping off points to expound on his pet secular themes.
    “…yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel. “ I Cor. 9:16


  3. Tony: Why do you immediately make this about Obama and the Democratic Party? Campolo says nothing about that here. The #whataboutism is getting old. Do you disagree with what Campolo said in this video or my suggestion that what he says here represents evangelical Christianity? If so, comment on it. Engage with the text of the post (or in this case the video) instead of changing the subject.


  4. This post has nothing to do with politics. And yes, I wish Tony would stay away from politics. If you watch the clip, he is claiming that the church has a witness in the world without politics.


    • John: you wish I would stay away from politics? That is a very ironic lament. You’ve written an entire book — and dedicate a substantial portion of your blog — to the proposition that many Evangelical
      Christians have tarnished their witness and distorted their faith by either idolizing or forming a misguided allegiance of political utility with Donald Trump in a quest for power.

      You routinely lambaste Jeffres and Company for toadying up to Trump. I simply want to know whether this critique applies to a guy whose brand of evangelicalism, and his theology, you admire. Personally, I see very little distinction between Campolo’s activism and presidential political affiliations, and that of the conservative court Evangelicals like Metaxas you criticize. I think the question is a fair one, and germane to one of the central themes of your blog.


      • John,
        In this message Tony Compolo uses the standard three sermon points which have no connection to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ
        A lawyer who does pro bono work for murderers.
        An English teacher who won a distinguished teaching award.
        A preacher (Mr. Compolo) who went to Haiti or another impoverished country and treated three ten-
        year-old girls to a movie night with ice cream sundaes.
        Each of these examples, while worthy as charitable actions, could have been done by atheists or agnostics. Mr. Compolo’s focus is on social action and not Biblical spiritual action. He knows how to cloak his secular views in Christian verbiage thus obtaining invitations to borderline evangelical pulpits.


  5. John: Campolo actively supported Barack Obama, proselytizing on his behalf to other Evangelicals. He sat on the D platform committee. He makes no bones about his overtly political activism supporting progressive causes.

    I render no judgment about that, other than to ask: is/was Campolo a “court Evangelical”?

    If not, why not?


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