What would you call Christians these days?

early_churchA pastor named Brian Zahnd went on Twitter last night and said that the concept of “evangelical” has been turned into something ugly, and though I don’t usually get into a lot of conversations on The Twitters, I agreed with him.

So the conversation progressed: If “evangelical” now carries with it the stench of ugly, what should evangelicals be called now? My vote was Early Church, which presents a host of grammatical issues, such as would those who belong to Early Church be Early Churchians? Churchites?

But hear me out: Christians in the early church probably wouldn’t recognize the rest of us, with our judgmental nonsense and our nasty-nice approach the world. Early Churchians (let this begin with me) had all things in common. They gave away their clothes, their jewelry. They lived intentionally in what today would be dismissed as hippie communes. They came from all over. They worshipped differently, but if they were cleaving to their sacred text, they all possessed a deep desire to share.

I’m not saying I could do any of that. But I like the idea, very much.

 (But please: Enjoy the white-washed lithograph of the early Caucasian church. Sorry. I couldn’t find a picture that accurately reflected the Middle Easterners who started the church.)

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  1. I disagree. There are ugly Evangelicals®, radicals and extremists that corrupt the concept and are willfully ignorant of The Message. But this atheist, (speaking of concepts corrupted into something grotesque), doesn’t consider the concept repugnant. Evangelism is, after all, part and parcel of Christianity. Always has been. It’s the message in the preaching and the witness that makes the difference.

    There’s religion…and then there’s Religion™. I try not to judge the many by the actions of a few. It’s hard sometimes. But I want to keep all that in mind because I don’t like it when that’s imposed on me. (Think Socialist.)

  2. I’m not certain, but I think you both are looking at it from slightly different perspectives. Though evangelizing may have always been a part of Christianity, what that means (the focus and message and judgment), I think has evolved from the original intent, as DJ mentioned. Some of it is ugly. Though, not all Christians, as leftover points out, represent that ugly side.

    DJ, what was it, do you think, that they wanted to share? What was the early church message that fit naturally into evangelizing? I am hoping to find that as I move through the text, so I’m curious. I’ve only gotten through the first 35 chapters of Genesis, and I can’t wait to get to something that will bring me closer to something that drew in Jesus. (Ok, that may not make sense given who Jesus was, but still.) So, far, it just angers me. Long ago when I read the Bible, I focused mostly on the Gospels.

    Then, there is what Leftover preaches and what was asked by Jesus – John 13:34 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So, what else is needed, I wonder?

    1. 7 Types of Evangelicals and the role they play in politics via CNN. I see liberals in there, but no “progressives.”

      I don’t cringe when I see or hear the term evangelical, but I do when I encounter the term progressive when applied to politics. Mostly because it’s been redefined so many times, mostly by people who are, in one way or another, ignorant of the history of progressivism in this country, that it no longer has any real meaning. Murphy does a better job than most in that post. He does seem to have some knowledge of the history of progressivism and its evolution. But the “progressive faith and politics” he’s describing sounds much closer to liberation theology,
      “[B]eing in solidarity with oppressed communities. Learning from them and supporting their struggles,” than progressivism. Maybe that’s by design.

      From my vantage point, someone is either a Christian, or they’re not. The difference is easy to see. They either got the saddle sores to prove it, or they’re all hat. Cobbling together identities to differentiate yourselves from one another just empowers more division. (Ask any socialist.) Which, from my vantage point, is probably a good thing because it keeps you all at each other’s throats instead of at mine.

          1. Careful. We might call you a Christian. ;-)
            I am assuming you mean this:

            John 13:34-36New International Version (NIV)

            34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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