Found in the name of our protestant denomination, “evangelical” is a term that has been used throughout Christian history.
In more recent decades, topics like “being born again”, a literal Bible and a sense of having “all the answers” to life may come to mind when the term evangelical is heard.
We as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have a broad appreciation for the complexity and mysteries we all face in life. As such, our church holds and embraces a different sense of evangelical. Why?
Evangelical is derived from the ancient biblical Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (pronounced euangellion) which means “gospel” or “good news” – The good news of God’s unconditional love shown through Jesus Christ. Rather than rigid doctrine, evangelical is a transforming revelation that can yield a sense of humility and awe. Evangelical points us to God’s love for all of creation, and moves us to do likewise.
In a number of languages, the expression ‘the gospel’ or ‘the good news’ must be rendered by a phrase, for example, ‘news that makes one happy’ or ‘information that causes one joy’ or ‘words that bring smiles’ or ‘a message that causes the heart to be sweet.’ *
This sense of good news has a way of bringing people together – not us against them, but rather we as a people. This allows us to find what we have in common regardless of our religious beliefs, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic or family status, physical or mental abilities.
Good news is something the world yearns for. For our church, good news can transform lives not judge them. Good news is collaborative, not divisive. Good news is inclusive, not narrow. Good news is moving, not heart breaking.
Evangelical is a hope for God’s love to be shared with all of creation where we are open to partaking in authentic and diverse relationships with the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and guidance.
* Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (412). New York: United Bible Societies.