March/April 2007 Issue
Are You An Evangelical?
By Bill Fledderus
An Evangelical is someone for whom the good news of Jesus Christ is at the centre of thinking and living. That’s the initial definition in an article from the World Evangelical Alliance.
However, that’s not a definition journalists, pollsters, scholars and social scientists can use to count heads – which is where some problems come in.
“One out of every four self-identified Evangelicals [in the United States] has not even accepted Christ as their Saviour,” alleges American pollster George Barna.
And there are many who affirm core Christian teachings but when asked if they are “Evangelical” answer no.
A great many of the experts admire the work of British historian David Bebbington. He notes four “hallmarks” of evangelical religion: conversionism, the belief that lives need to be changed; activism, the expression of the gospel in effort; biblicism, a particular regard for the Bible; and crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
But that still doesn’t translate well into population numbers.
A 2003 survey of Canadians co-sponsored by The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada tried to break down the label to six points. That survey considers you to be an Evangelical if you:
Believe that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus God provided the way for the forgiveness of your sins
Believe the Bible is the Word of God and is reliable and trustworthy
Have committed your life to Christ and are comfortable calling yourself a "converted Christian"
Disagree with the statement that “the concept of God is an old superstition that is no longer needed to explain things in these modern times”
Disagree with the statement “Jesus Christ was not the divine Son of God”
Attend church weekly.
By this standard, 19 percent of Canadians are Evangelicals – roughly 12 percent Protestants and seven percent Roman Catholics. Even if you just count the Protestants, that’s 3.9 million. Other experts, such as pollster George Barna, argue that church attendance should not be one of the defining factors, nor should calling oneself “converted” or “born again.”
For more information view the EFC Media Centre webpage, About Evangelicals. Don’t miss the link to an essay there from the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.