What is Christian Literacy?

refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.

Religious literacy
means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.

I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Evangelicals & Fundamentalists

The terms are often used interchangeably. But is there a difference between a Fundamentalist and an Evangelical?

The answer is yes.

Both groups frequently use a number of common terms (born again, saved and the lost, to name a few). And both groups stress evangelism, conversion, conviction, being public about one's faith, knowing the Bible and personal salvation through the atonement of the Cross of Christ.

But there are some differences.

Fundamentalists take a literal approach to every story in the Bible. Evangelicals are sometimes open to other interpretations, such as viewing some of the Old Testament stories as parables.

Fundamentalist reject evolution. Evangelicals vary on the subject.

Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is inerrant - perfect and without error on all subjects, including history and science. Evangelicals tend to use such words as "inspired" and "authoritative," meaning that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy in matters of faith and practice.

To Fundamentalists "mission" work is often primarily about spreading the faith.
Evangelicals tend to view it as ministering to the poor, sharing the faith in word and deed.

Fundamentalist are part of the Religious Right, conservative in their social and political views. Many Evangelicals lean that way but not all. In fact, there is an "Evangelical Left," folks with standard theological views but liberal socially and politically. As far as I know there are no left-wing Fundamentalists!

Fundamentalists tend to stick to themselves, often refusing to fellowship with those who are not doctrinally pure in their eyes. Evangelicals are more open and ecumenical.

And one more thing . . . Evangelicals tend to view the rest of us as in God's Kingdom and heaven-bound. Most Fundamentalists believe we're going down.

Question: What can we learn from our Evangelical and Fundamentalist friends?

Prayer: Loving God, help us to keep an open mind and learn from the diversity within your church. Amen.

Rev. Billy Graham

Tim Tebow
P.S. Given my own centrist theological perspective (don't we all think  we're the moderate ones?), it was difficult to write this entry. I always want to be respectful of those whose views are different than mine. But sometimes in teaching one must point out the differences. The goal is always to disagree respectfully. I hope I have done so.

Extra Credit:

The term "evangelical" comes from the Greek word, euangelion, which means, "good news." While the word is often used today as a noun and pronounced with a long "e," the same word in theological studies is pronounced with a short "e" and used to refer to theology that is Christ-centered, which by definition most Christian theology is! The Lutheran Church in the U.S. changed their name a few years ago to, "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America." Most Lutherans are not Evangelicals as described above. It was however their way of saying, "Our central message is the Good News of Christ." In this way, most Christian churches are "evangelical" - with a short "e" instead of a long one.

Got it?

Sojourners Magazine - The Evangelical Left

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