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Do Christians need a term or label to identify ourselves?

A friend wrote, “I no longer call myself an Evangelical.”

He is thoughtful and well informed, but now I suspect he is feeling a bit embarrassed as he has chosen to avoid a term used globally by hundreds of millions of Christians.

For many within shouting distance of U.S. media circles and party politics, the world has become a banner of disrepute. Evangelical is now a word disfigured by political pundits, muddied by protestors from the left and right, and brought into dishonor by self-proclaimed spokespeople who excuse inappropriate behavior and language as the necessary price for political power.

The center has shifted, and many Evangelicals now wonder where they fit.

I come to this subject as a Canadian not caught in the political wars of our great neighbor to the south, and with no need to offer opinions on their issues. I am also part of a world association which came into existence in 1846 and is today a global body that numbers some 600 million Christians.

Obviously, I have reason to be concerned over the use of the term Evangelical and its meaning to the world. This is a deeply emotional issue, and not just for Americans.

There are three centers around which this conversation revolves.

First, there is a community of those who self-describe as Evangelical and who support American conservative politics, leadership, and policies. Second, there are self-described Evangelicals who abhor a particular type of politics and populism, currently exemplified by the U.S. President Trump, and his language, life, and social policies. Third, there are those who, like my friend, continue to believe the essential theological affirmations of Evangelicals, but whose commitment to its related mission has led them to forgo using the …

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