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I grew up Southern Baptist and now go to a nondenominational church. Doctrinally, it's similar to what I grew up with, but just MUCH more open and relaxed in general.

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As an adult I was a member of a SBC. DH and I met and married in the same church. We left about 17-18 years ago. We haven't attended church since then. Our views on religion and especially on the dangers of organized religion have changed drastically.

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As a child:

Church of the Nazarene --> Christian Missionary Alliance -->  Assembly of God (1) --> Assembly of God (2) --> Assembly of God (1 again) --> Evangelical Congregational

In college:

Southern Baptist (1) --> Southern Baptist (2) --> Independent Baptist (1) --> Independent Baptist (2) --> Independent Baptist (3)

As an adult:

Independent Baptist

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As a child Southern Baptist (in Michigan) the  independent Baptist Church from 15-42.   Last 8 years at a Wesleyan church that seems more non denominational.

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Raised in a large SBC. 
 

I mostly fit in most with PCUSA. But in the south, the congregations are too small with too few kids and youth. We’re attending a UMC church now, but I’m struggling with marriage equality. It’s hard. 

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Child: independent pentecostal/evangelical church, with a 2-year stopover in a Catholic church until my parents went back to the little independent church. 

Adult: the same independent church I grew up in as a child until the pastor died and it folded, then Assembly of God, and now a FourSquare church. 

This FourSquare church I’m in is very mild compared to any other church I’ve been in. The pastor is more liberal leaning than conservative leaning. The emphasis is very much on helping the community and having a balanced view on things. No hellfire and brimstone and NO politics.

I’m very glad I found it.

 

Edited by Garga
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Raised in a non-denominational church. After an ugly church split and a spiritually abusive pastor, we started attending a church that is Independent Christian Church denomination which is where I got married in.  My parents are still members there.

After getting married we attended a non-denominational church where DH had done his youth ministry training in college.  It was one of my favorite.  It was very small and very racially diverse and felt like family but we moved out of the area.

We floated around a bit, eventually becoming members at a Christian Missionary Alliance church for a number of years.  For personal reasons we left that church and started going to a Free Methodist church for about a year.  Then we ended up at a home church for a couple of years, but that was not a good fit.

Our last church was inter-denominational (which is very different from non-denominational).  We are currently not attending anywhere.

My faith is still very important to me, but I just don't feel like I fit in anywhere.

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I grew up in a large non-denominational church that had been Assembly of God, which imploded when the leader had a financial failing. Then, 20 years later, dh and I were quite active in a non-denominational church that was moving towards what is now called New Apostolic Reformation, which is more a "movement" than a denomination.

We experienced (and were willing participants in) legalism, abuse of power, cult-like attitudes, and general weirdness, mixed with a lot of great people and true friendships and genuine encounters with God.  Thankfully, that church imploded, and we went on a search for our faith- a simple and genuine faith devoid of hype, control, and power schemes. 

We landed in a quiet, non-denominational, no-pressure church that focuses on Jesus. We also have a small neighborhood bible study that we attend weekly, with no rules and limits on what can be asked or discussed. I also find great comfort in listening to a prayer app from the Church of England. I didn't grow up with liturgy, so the straightforward readings and prayers on the app are comforting and refreshing to me. We do not consider ourselves evangelical. 

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I was raised and remained SBC into my 30s.  A combination of digging into theology,  church history and a shift in SBC culture that has been discussed in the other thread led me to becoming Lutheran (LCMS).  If that weren’t an option in my area I would become Catholic.

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I was raised in a Pentecostal church. As an adult, I have attended three non-denominational churches, though the first of the three was headed by a SB pastor. I have only attended virtual church since the pandemic began, and that without much regularity. I don’t know if I can be identified as anything at this point. I’m more of a “none” than anything.  

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Raised Southern Baptist. Around age 17 or 18 left the church.  Attended a Unitarian Church a couple of times, but we are "nones" now.

Church was a pretty bad experience for me.  And we definitely saw the changes occur over my childhood -- we first attended a very old church with a very sedate and traditional pastor and congregation.  Very formal.  We changed churches and the pastor there was still very good -- very learned and he taught some very good sermons.  He was very moderate.  He left and a younger pastor came in and the whole church changed for the worse.  

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3 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

 Which denomination did you come from and which did you go to? Why?

Define "evangelical." Seriously. I don't know what people mean by that. Are some denominations/faith groups evangelical and some are not? How do we know which is which?

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14 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Define "evangelical." Seriously. I don't know what people mean by that. Are some denominations/faith groups evangelical and some are not? How do we know which is which?

that is a good question and one I have been wrestling with.   Evangelical can be very broad.   

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11 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Define "evangelical." Seriously. I don't know what people mean by that. Are some denominations/faith groups evangelical and some are not? How do we know which is which?

I was wondering the same thing. I thought all Christian denominations' goals were to spread the word, which is what I think of as evangelical.

I grew up Presbyterian, but my parents treated Sunday mornings like free child care, so I didn't take it seriously.

As a married couple, we were with an SBC church, an independent baptist church, then another 2 SBC churches. The independent Baptist was excellent and one we keep in touch with despite having moved away more than 10 years ago. We're not currently attending and tbh, I don't think we could find one that would fit my dh and I. We have very different views and expectations of a church.

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28 minutes ago, DawnM said:

that is a good question and one I have been wrestling with.   Evangelical can be very broad.   

Depending on who's asking the question, it can be Catholic vs not-Catholic. I don't know why it is so.

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1 hour ago, Ellie said:

Define "evangelical." Seriously. I don't know what people mean by that. Are some denominations/faith groups evangelical and some are not? How do we know which is which?

Good question. Speaking as someone who was never Protestant and grew up in the Bible Belt, I get confused about what is and is not Evangelism and Fundamentalism. Are fundamentalists evangelists? 

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1 hour ago, Ellie said:

Depending on who's asking the question, it can be Catholic vs not-Catholic. I don't know why it is so.

It seems much broader than that to me, as someone who was raised Catholic and attended a Methodist church for many years as an adult. I had lots of evangelical friends in college, and I think there are lots of denominations they wouldn’t identify with besides Catholic, including Methodist, Episcopalian, and United Church of Christ, just to name a few.

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4 hours ago, Frances said:

It seems much broader than that to me, as someone who was raised Catholic and attended a Methodist church for many years as an adult. I had lots of evangelical friends in college, and I think there are lots of denominations they wouldn’t identify with besides Catholic, including Methodist, Episcopalian, and United Church of Christ, just to name a few.

I agree; I have thought evangelical is only Protestant, not Catholic or Orthodox. 

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7 hours ago, Tiberia said:

I grew up in a large non-denominational church that had been Assembly of God, which imploded when the leader had a financial failing. Then, 20 years later, dh and I were quite active in a non-denominational church that was moving towards what is now called New Apostolic Reformation, which is more a "movement" than a denomination.

We experienced (and were willing participants in) legalism, abuse of power, cult-like attitudes, and general weirdness, mixed with a lot of great people and true friendships and genuine encounters with God.  Thankfully, that church imploded, and we went on a search for our faith- a simple and genuine faith devoid of hype, control, and power schemes. 

We landed in a quiet, non-denominational, no-pressure church that focuses on Jesus. We also have a small neighborhood bible study that we attend weekly, with no rules and limits on what can be asked or discussed. I also find great comfort in listening to a prayer app from the Church of England. I didn't grow up with liturgy, so the straightforward readings and prayers on the app are comforting and refreshing to me. We do not consider ourselves evangelical. 

That sounds lovely. 

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6 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Good question. Speaking as someone who was never Protestant and grew up in the Bible Belt, I get confused about what is and is not Evangelism and Fundamentalism. Are fundamentalists evangelists? 

I never know either. I grew up in a church with Evangelical in its name, but it doesn’t seem to fit the bill of the conversations I read. Anyway, I’ve been an atheist since at least my teens.

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8 hours ago, Ellie said:

Depending on who's asking the question, it can be Catholic vs not-Catholic. I don't know why it is so.

Interesting, that isn't what was crossing my mind, but I can see how that could be a definition, although I don't agree with it.   And I have known some who consider themselves Evangelical Catholic.

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I was raised in a Pentecostal charismatic church. DH was raised in a Southern Baptist church. I definitely did not fit in at his church which looking back at it now is odd. Services were much different, but overall, the "rules" were the same. He found my childhood church overwhelming, and we struggled to find a church home as a young married couple. Over the years, we have attended a Lutheran church briefly, a Methodist church, an Assembly of God church, finally landing at a large non-denominational church. I never truly felt at home at any of the churches we went to, and I no longer attend church. DH attends sporadically, although he is thinking of changing churches following the pandemic. My children attend the non-denominational church's youth group. 

As for Evangelicalism, I would say that out of the churches that I've attended, the Lutheran and Methodist church were not, the others were. 

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So, the below is Wiki's definition.   By this definition, I am evangelical.   However, the American politicizing of the Evangelical church has caused me to pull away from the word evangelical as it seems very closely associated with politics, which I can't stand.   I think various evangelical leaders have made it so.....like Franklin Graham, whose father was not that way at all.   

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism

Evangelicalism (/ˌvænˈɛlɪkəlɪzəm, ˌɛvæn-, -ən/), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism,[note 1] is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement.[1][2][3] Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has long had a presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.

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8 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Good question. Speaking as someone who was never Protestant and grew up in the Bible Belt, I get confused about what is and is not Evangelism and Fundamentalism. Are fundamentalists evangelists? 

This video is a pretty good explanation of the evangelical vs. fundamentalist. 

It also talks a bit about evangelical/fundamentalist vs everyone else protestant, but I think it over simplifies that distinction a bit because I'm not sure every denomination moved exactly along the lines he describes.  I'm hoping to find a good book to read soon to learn more about 19th and early 20th century protestant church history.  

(I personally am still a non denominational evangelical, though personally embarrassed to be associated with many aspects of evangelical culture today.  "Jesus and John Wayne" by Kristin Du Mez was an eye opening book but I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water in terms of theological beliefs.)

 

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I'm with DawnM. Technically, I do fall under the definition of evangelical, but it's got so mixed up with fundementalism that it's hard to use the word. 

My introduction to the church was SBC, but after a series of other churches & several years of no church at all, we now attend an Episcopalian church. 

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34 minutes ago, DawnM said:

However, the American politicizing of the Evangelical church has caused me to pull away from the word evangelical as it seems very closely associated with politics, which I can't stand.   I think various evangelical leaders have made it so.....like Franklin Graham, whose father was not that way at all.   

Jesus and John Wayne, by Kristin Du Mez, discusses Billy Graham’s political involvement. It was very eye opening. 

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7 hours ago, Frances said:

It seems much broader than that to me, as someone who was raised Catholic and attended a Methodist church for many years as an adult. I had lots of evangelical friends in college, and I think there are lots of denominations they wouldn’t identify with besides Catholic, including Methodist, Episcopalian, and United Church of Christ, just to name a few.

Off the top of my head, I'd say you can divide churches in the US up into some broad (not totally accurate) categories. Liturgical (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox), Mainline Protestant (Presbyterian, United Methodist, Lutheran denominations, Episcopal -although some would argue that goes in liturgical, UCC and Congregational), and Evangelical (Baptists, most Non-Denominational, and others I can't think of). Obviousy there are overlaps, and not all churches fit in these categories. 

The "Born Again" experience at a particular moment in time at which point the person says the "sinners prayer"  is definitely associated with the Evangelical movement, it's not something emphasized in the other branches, and not found at all in some. 

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40 minutes ago, kirstenhill said:

This video is a pretty good explanation of the evangelical vs. fundamentalist. 

I had to skim through it, but I'll just point out that must fundamentalists no longer call themselves fundamentalists. 

Also, I don't think what's surging through the SBC has anything to do with the evangelical vs. fundamentalism thing. It's a Reformed/Hyper-calvinist movement and comes with it's own subculture. It has swept through both the SBC and fundamentalism, so that you also have sort of time warp fundamentalism (churches that didn't want to go toward the reformed/hyper Piper trend and may or may not have modernized). But I think for what op was originally commenting on, that reformed/hyper piper thing is at the root. Look for who they're following, reading, lauding.

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9 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I had to skim through it, but I'll just point out that must fundamentalists no longer call themselves fundamentalists. 

 

He says that at one point in the video. Something like "Almost no one calls themselves fundamentalists now, so where did the fundamentalists go?"

It was helpful for me as someone who was not raised in a church at all so because I became "churched" at a time when no one was calling themselves a fundamentalist, yet it was this term that was "out there" and I never really understood. 

Edited by kirstenhill
Grammar
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27 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I had to skim through it, but I'll just point out that must fundamentalists no longer call themselves fundamentalists. 

Also, I don't think what's surging through the SBC has anything to do with the evangelical vs. fundamentalism thing. It's a Reformed/Hyper-calvinist movement and comes with it's own subculture. It has swept through both the SBC and fundamentalism, so that you also have sort of time warp fundamentalism (churches that didn't want to go toward the reformed/hyper Piper trend and may or may not have modernized). But I think for what op was originally commenting on, that reformed/hyper piper thing is at the root. Look for who they're following, reading, lauding.

I would venture to say that the neo-Calvinism that drove us out of a Baptist church less than 10 years ago could have been more appropriately deemed fundamentalist. It was dressed up as Calvinism but was accompanied by beyond Calvin belief requirements that served as a rubric for whether or not one believed in the faith [eta you’re “not really saved” if you don’t believe these things]: literal 7-day creation, male headship/wifely submission, pastoral authority, mandatory church membership with lengthy signed covenant (arguably a legal document). Since we’ve been gone I’ve heard there are even flat earthers in the congregation, which is about as fundamental as you can get.
 

Just because groups don’t self-identify as fundamental doesn’t mean they aren’t fundamental in practice. There are still clearly markers: science denial, anti-intellectualism, separatism, reluctance to racially integrate, staunch support of super conservative political candidates. I consider the church I left fundamental, and the church I now attend healthy evangelical (and even then I’d like to see it less programmed and more organic, and I no longer use the term evangelical to describe myself because it is misunderstood). 

Personally I would have liked to see Vischer’s take on how John MacArthur fits into the picture and yes, to have addressed the neo-Calvinist movement specifically. I remember once having this discussion with a boardie who has since left. She was adamant that the SBC was historically Calvinist and that the neo-Cal movement was simply a return to its roots. I have to wonder how she’d plug the term fundamental into that. 

Edited by Seasider too
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2 hours ago, DawnM said:

So, the below is Wiki's definition.   By this definition, I am evangelical.   However, the American politicizing of the Evangelical church has caused me to pull away from the word evangelical as it seems very closely associated with politics, which I can't stand.   I think various evangelical leaders have made it so.....like Franklin Graham, whose father was not that way at all.   

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism

Evangelicalism (/ˌvænˈɛlɪkəlɪzəm, ˌɛvæn-, -ən/), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism,[note 1] is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement.[1][2][3] Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has long had a presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.

This was my understanding if evangelicalism as a child and would have included me. As the term became more aligned with various political causes and groups, I distanced myself from it. My parents and my church never used it except to describe and practice evangelism (spreading the Word).
 

I grew up in an ABC church but my parents let me attend the big AME church with my grandparents and Jehovah’s Witness meetings with my neighbors. I knocked on my share of doors and read my yellow children’s Bible stories book. In college, I attended FAME in LA. DH grew up in the Church of Christ (both the black and white congregations which were on opposite sides of the tracks, literally). As adults, we feel most comfy in ABC churches but I also love the liturgical parts of AME services.

Edited by Sneezyone
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I used to self-identify as an evangelical. To me, at the time, it meant:

1. Aligning with conservative politics

2. Doctrine of hell that included eternal torment for "sinners"/Calvinist doctrine

3. Rejection of evolution in favor of 7 day creationism, or you aren't considered a Christian

4. Anti LGBTQ

5. Penal Substitution Theory of Atonement

6. Duty to impact culture by generous giving, voting, picketing, boycotting, witnessing

7. I was self-righteous, judgmental, and certain

My rejection of evangelicalism has been a rejection of most of the above beliefs, while still clinging to the love of God and the reliance on all that Jesus has done. I've become somewhat of a universalist, but still a Christ-follower.

I don't want to bash anyone who believes the above; I just don't believe that way anymore. Some of the most frustrating people in my life are evangelicals. Some of the most amazing, giving, and loving people I have ever known are evangelicals. 

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3 hours ago, DawnM said:

So, the below is Wiki's definition.   By this definition, I am evangelical.   However, the American politicizing of the Evangelical church has caused me to pull away from the word evangelical as it seems very closely associated with politics, which I can't stand.   I think various evangelical leaders have made it so.....like Franklin Graham, whose father was not that way at all.   

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism

Evangelicalism (/ˌvænˈɛlɪkəlɪzəm, ˌɛvæn-, -ən/), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism,[note 1] is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus's atonement.[1][2][3] Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or "born again" experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message. The movement has long had a presence in the Anglosphere before spreading further afield in the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.

This doesn't help much, as it describes all Christian sects, IMHO.

I still don't know how one would discern which faith group is "evangelical" and which is not, especially when it is clear that often when it is used it is referring to Christians as a whole, not a subset within the group, if that's even possible.

Either one is a Christian or one is not. All Christians should be evangelical. Once I wasn't; now I am, and that's all there is to it.

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The funny thing is, I grew up in the ELCA -- Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  Nowadays, I think many "evangelicals" would consider that brand of Lutheranism as not-evangelical, and way too liberal!  The meaning of the word has changed a lot.  

I think the word evangelical as it used to be -- when I was growing up (in the 60's and 70's) -- had a broader meaning.  It meant following Christ and spreading the good news in how you live your life.  It didn't have the answers to everything but was okay with that.  The lines were a little fuzzy but that made it feel more welcoming and comfortable for outsiders.  

Today's culture has attached a new meaning to it because of how a large part of the Christian community has changed it.  The cultural definition seems to have gotten much narrower, with more specific requirements.  It's taken on issues as absolutes that it didn't used to, like the inerrancy and literal interpretation of the Bible, anti-abortion, traditional roles for men and women, being a Republican, and definitely not gay.  It feels much more like a "club" now, and you're either in, or out.

I know some churches still call themselves evangelical based on the older interpretation (like the ELCA church!).  I know not all evangelical churches fit all the characteristics I listed above.

Under the new cultural definition, I've never been part of that kind of "evangelical" church, although I've rubbed shoulders with it while homeschooling, and because many of my friends are evangelicals.  I think there was a period (maybe beginning in the 80's?) when some people in the main-line protestant churches began feeling that their churches really were becoming too liberal, changing too quickly with the times, and giving up some important aspects of the church while do so.  For people who wanted to join a church that felt more Bible-centered, their only other option was to join a more conservative church like Baptist, Covenant, Reformed, etc., or a non-denominational church which really seemed to take off then.  But that's also when the "new" evangelical twist started to take root in those conservative churches.  I think it happened slowly at first and a lot of people didn't even realize it was happening.

The church I attend now is non-denominational, an Anabaptist spinoff.  It's very Christ-centered.  (Christ-centered as opposed to Bible-centered.)  It's the most Christ-centered church I've ever attended.  But everyone is welcome, and you feel it.  I think it would be called evangelical by the old interpretation, but not by the newer cultural one.  I just looked up a review on our church, and this is how someone described it:

"I guess you could call them an evangelical church (they teach the Bible as God's inspired Word), but they're lacking in the legalism and judgmental attitude that seems to be part of the package with so many evangelical churches. They are fastidious about not involving themselves in political debates (Greg even wrote a book about that!), and will respect and accept even people who disagree with them on certain doctrines."

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I had to skim through it, but I'll just point out that must fundamentalists no longer call themselves fundamentalists. 

Also, I don't think what's surging through the SBC has anything to do with the evangelical vs. fundamentalism thing. It's a Reformed/Hyper-calvinist movement and comes with it's own subculture. It has swept through both the SBC and fundamentalism, so that you also have sort of time warp fundamentalism (churches that didn't want to go toward the reformed/hyper Piper trend and may or may not have modernized). But I think for what op was originally commenting on, that reformed/hyper piper thing is at the root. Look for who they're following, reading, lauding.

I agree with the idea of a neo-Calvinist influence that isn’t pretty, but @Seasider too is hitting it on the head with how she explains the way fundamentalism applies in the SBC.

There have always been both Calvinist and non-Calvinist people in most Baptist traditions, including some who would argue there are 4 vs. 5 points, etc. The revival of Calvinist influence does seem to have its own flavor that I find uncomfortable. I think Baptist used to be more live and let live on the Calvinist vs. non-Calvinist stuff.

The SBC seems to also be chasing certain ideas that long-standing Calvinist denominations have argued and condemned long ago (according to PCA friends’ take on those issues). 

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Ellie, I think the American understanding of the term evangelical has become something more than the dictionary definition, hence the reason people either identify with the term, or don’t. It has to do a lot with self identification or self non-identification. It is confusing and unclear, but if you ask individual churches and people, most would be able to tell you if they’re evangelical or not.

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12 minutes ago, Ellie said:

This doesn't help much, as it describes all Christian sects, IMHO.

I still don't know how one would discern which faith group is "evangelical" and which is not, especially when it is clear that often when it is used it is referring to Christians as a whole, not a subset within the group, if that's even possible.

Either one is a Christian or one is not. All Christians should be evangelical. Once I wasn't; now I am, and that's all there is to it.

I would agree that all Christians should be evangelical.  But I think that the difference is defining themselves and their "mission" by that label and using a big E.

I grew up with people who defined themselves as Evangelical being from churches that were not liturgical.  They didn't celebrate Holy Week (or if they did only bits of it), Epiphany, advent, Lent, and other traditional church holidays.  They didn't focus much, if at all on the saints.  They practice "believers baptism" rather than infant.  Communion is symbolic and done less frequently, usually once a month.  It is in my mind an offshoot of the more Puritan and/or Anabaptist way of doing church.

Evangelical churches also focus more, IME, on evangelism, but not follow up.  Once little Johnny has said "the prayer" he is good to go, if he starts going to church all the better, but either way he is going to heaven.  There is a lack of focus on sanctification.  I have heard the term used as "easy believism".

The church I grew up in and many like minded churches considered themselves Fundamentalist and Evangelical.  They would hold a town revival one week every summer, bringing in a evangelist.  They were twice on Sunday and Wednesday night church goers.

Basically, IME, people who label themselves as Evangelical focus on evangelism, breaking away from high church tradition, and focus solely on the bible as there source of truth.  Obviously other peoples definitions and experiences may be different, but this is what I grew up with and what I saw when going to Bible college.  In my head, it was not doing a lot of the traditional liturgy that was seen in my Lutheran friend's church.

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To me, evangelical churches are ones that have an altar call at every event. If you go to a Christmas program or a dance recital or a fundraiser and there is an altar call you are dealing with “Evangelicals”.
 

I realize that is just my definition but I use the term evangelical and that is what I mean. It is the born again/altar call variety of Christians. This is the way I see the term used and the way it is used politically as far as I can tell. 

I am Catholic and we are called to evangelize but we are definitely not under the umbrella of “evangelicals”.  

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21 minutes ago, Loowit said:

I would agree that all Christians should be evangelical.  But I think that the difference is defining themselves and their "mission" by that label and using a big E.

I grew up with people who defined themselves as Evangelical being from churches that were not liturgical.  They didn't celebrate Holy Week (or if they did only bits of it), Epiphany, advent, Lent, and other traditional church holidays.  They didn't focus much, if at all on the saints.  They practice "believers baptism" rather than infant.  Communion is symbolic and done less frequently, usually once a month.  It is in my mind an offshoot of the more Puritan and/or Anabaptist way of doing church.

Evangelical churches also focus more, IME, on evangelism, but not follow up.  Once little Johnny has said "the prayer" he is good to go, if he starts going to church all the better, but either way he is going to heaven.  There is a lack of focus on sanctification.  I have heard the term used as "easy believism".

The church I grew up in and many like minded churches considered themselves Fundamentalist and Evangelical.  They would hold a town revival one week every summer, bringing in a evangelist.  They were twice on Sunday and Wednesday night church goers.

Basically, IME, people who label themselves as Evangelical focus on evangelism, breaking away from high church tradition, and focus solely on the bible as there source of truth.  Obviously other peoples definitions and experiences may be different, but this is what I grew up with and what I saw when going to Bible college.  In my head, it was not doing a lot of the traditional liturgy that was seen in my Lutheran friend's church.

 

19 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

To me, evangelical churches are ones that have an altar call at every event. If you go to a Christmas program or a dance recital or a fundraiser and there is an altar call you are dealing with “Evangelicals”.
 

I realize that is just my definition but I use the term evangelical and that is what I mean. It is the born again/altar call variety of Christians. This is the way I see the term used and the way it is used politically as far as I can tell. 

I am Catholic and we are called to evangelize but we are definitely not under the umbrella of “evangelicals”.  

These posts capture how I parse evangelical vs. the broader Christian tradition .  This is the evangelical world I grew up in.  The emphasis was on decision theology and boiling everything down to just “my personal relationship with Jesus.”  Greater church tradition and history were absent.  To me, this is the key distinction between Evangelicals with a capital “e” and the more general idea that all Christians ought to evangelize.

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1 hour ago, WoolC said:

 

These posts capture how I parse evangelical vs. the broader Christian tradition .  This is the evangelical world I grew up in.  The emphasis was on decision theology and boiling everything down to just “my personal relationship with Jesus.”  Greater church tradition and history were absent.  To me, this is the key distinction between Evangelicals with a capital “e” and the more general idea that all Christians ought to evangelize.

This *and* big E evangelical churches disavow the liberation/equity theology that was very much a part of the churches I grew up in. Our church was deeply into spreading the gospel but not the hellfire and brimstone version that shunned people of difference, at least not in practice. The pastor might preach about Adam and Eve vs. Adam and Steve while everyone nodding amen knew good and damn well that the music minister was as gay as could be. DADT was the norm. The gifts were more valued than the sins were abhorred.

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From Wikipedia's Evangelicalism article:

Quote

The Barna Group reported that 8 percent of Americans in 2006 were born-again evangelicals, defined as those who answered yes to these nine questions:[71][68]

  • "Have you made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in your life today?"
  • "Do you believe that when you die you will go to Heaven because you have confessed your sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior?"
  • "Is your faith very important in your life today?"
  • "Do you have a personal responsibility to share your religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians?"
  • "Does Satan exist?"
  • "Is eternal salvation possible only through grace, not works?"
  • "Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life on earth?"
  • "Is the Bible accurate in all that it teaches?"
  • "Is God the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today?"

In 2012, The Economist estimated that "over one-third of Americans, more than 100 M, can be considered evangelical," arguing that the percentage is often undercounted because many African Americans espouse evangelical theology but refer to themselves as "born again Christians" rather than "evangelical."[72] As of 2017, according to The Economist, white evangelicals overall account for about 17 percent of Americans, while white evangelicals under the age of 30 represent about 8 percent of Americans in that age group.[73]Wheaton College's Institute for the Studies of American Evangelicals estimates that about 30 to 35 percent (90 to 100 million people) of the US population is evangelical. These figures include white and black "cultural evangelicals" (Americans who do not regularly attend church but identify as evangelicals).[74] Similarly, a 2019 Gallup survey asking respondents whether they identified as "born-again" or "evangelical" found that 37% of respondents answered in the affirmative.[75]

One trick with labels is that they can sometimes be lowercase and describe a belief or practice but capitalized to indicate an organized group (unitarian vs. Unitarian, catholic vs. Catholic).

I've never been evangelical or Evangelical myself.

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2 hours ago, J-rap said:

Under the new cultural definition, I've never been part of that kind of "evangelical" church, although I've rubbed shoulders with it while homeschooling, and because many of my friends are evangelicals.  I think there was a period (maybe beginning in the 80's?) when some people in the main-line protestant churches began feeling that their churches really were becoming too liberal, changing too quickly with the times, and giving up some important aspects of the church while do so.  For people who wanted to join a church that felt more Bible-centered, their only other option was to join a more conservative church like Baptist, Covenant, Reformed, etc., or a non-denominational church which really seemed to take off then.  But that's also when the "new" evangelical twist started to take root in those conservative churches.  I think it happened slowly at first and a lot of people didn't even realize it was happening.

 

This is pretty much what happened to us in the late 90's. DH and I both grew up in the UMC (although my parents were not Christian and I attended without them) and we were baptised, confirmed, and married in the UMC. DH and I attended a local UMC the first decade + after we were married. The people were nice and the church was very focused on local and global outreach projects, but at some point we started becoming more and more aware about a total lack of Biblical theology or, well, Biblical anything. It was basically a do-gooder social club without any actual Bible studies. Then there were instances where bishops and others in the hierarchy would go against the UMC Book of Discipline with no consequences and the denomination seemed to have an identity crisis. Added to that was the fact that our church claimed a membership of 1,000 but barely got more than 250 people on a Sunday, never had more than a handful of children, and seemed to be a dying church. We moved to a non-denominational church on the other side of town and have been there since. 

This entire thread has really been interesting. Evangelicals have been described as everything imaginable which seems to show there's no longer any agreed upon definition. My church considers itself evangelical, but has *never* had an altar call. I don't know a single member of my congregation who believes in a literal seven day creation. In fact, some of our members are very well respected scientists. We have multiple pastors and I wouldn't be able to tell you how a single one of them voted with any confidence. Evangelical seems to be used for just about every church that's not Orthodox, Catholic, or Mainline now.

A question that popped into my mind while watching the Vischer video: Were the early homeschoolers most likely to be fundamentalists? The old stereotypes about homeschoolers and the video definition would seem to indicate they were.

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20 minutes ago, mom2scouts said:

 

 

A question that popped into my mind while watching the Vischer video: Were the early homeschoolers most likely to be fundamentalists? The old stereotypes about homeschoolers and the video definition would seem to indicate they were.

Early homeschoolers tended to be either fundamentalist Christian or counter culture hippie type. 

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3 hours ago, Tiberia said:

Ellie, I think the American understanding of the term evangelical has become something more than the dictionary definition, hence the reason people either identify with the term, or don’t. It has to do a lot with self identification or self non-identification. It is confusing and unclear, but if you ask individual churches and people, most would be able to tell you if they’re evangelical or not.

Maybe. It is still not ever going to be in my vocabulary when talking with someone about whether he believes in Jesus or not. If he does, he's a Christian.. He will be choosing to live his Christianity as a Southern Baptist, or as  a Catholic, or as a Lutheran, or as a non-denominational believer.  Trying to label someone as an "evangelical"  just too nebulous, too open for interpretation. 

I feel kind of the same way about defining homeschool support groups as "inclusive."

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My mother is Catholic (well, sort of. She hasn't set foot in a church except for her parents' funerals in decades). Dad Baptist, although he took a break from it until he divorced my mother. So Catholic church and school in my early elementary years, then Baptist churches with my dad and stepmother through middle and high school. Episcopalian now. I'm surprised to hear that the SBC is tied up with Calvinism...in the Baptist churches I grew up going my understanding was that predestination was more or less heresy. But then Baptists aren't really known for being theologically consistent. 

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12 minutes ago, Ellie said:

 Trying to label someone as an "evangelical"  just too nebulous, too open for interpretation. 

 

I get what you mean, but it was a label people voluntarily applied to themselves. "Evangelical Christian" was a label people claimed, and were proud of. Many still are, although it's less of a thing now than it was. 

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18 hours ago, Ellie said:

Define "evangelical." Seriously. I don't know what people mean by that. Are some denominations/faith groups evangelical and some are not? How do we know which is which?

Different people define it differently.  I'm leaving it to individuals to classify themselves. If you don't consider yourself a former Evangelical (which is what Exvangelical means) this isn't a discussion for you.  If you do consider yourself Evangelical or former Evangelical then it is for you.

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48 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Different people define it differently.  I'm leaving it to individuals to classify themselves. If you don't consider yourself a former Evangelical (which is what Exvangelical means) this isn't a discussion for you.  If you do consider yourself Evangelical or former Evangelical then it is for you.

Well, ok then. I guess I'll just be happy being a Christian. Carry on.

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