I’ve read many definitions of “evangelical” and “evangelicalism” over the years: some focused on a doctrinal/theological center, some on shared cultural values and religious practices, but never on the pursuit of shared questions. In a recent interview Molly Worthen summarizes her understanding of evangelicals as follows:

“…evangelicals are Protestants who since aftermath of the Reformation have been circling around three questions. Those questions are: First, how do you reconcile faith and reason? How do you maintain one coherent way of knowing? Second, how do you become sure of your salvation? How do you meet Jesus and develop a relationship with him, to use the language that some evangelicals prefer. And third, how do you reconcile your personal faith with an increasingly pluralistic, secular public sphere?”

The full interview can be read here: The Intellectual Civil War within Evangelicalism.

Now, given that she wrote a whole book on the subject it is somewhat unfair to ask this question since none of us can give a balanced response without reading her full argument, but I’m going to ask this question nevertheless: What do you make of defining evangelicals/-ism more around shared questions that a shared creed or culture? (FWIW: she differentiates the pursuit of Roman Catholics and liberal Protestants from evangelicals on the basis of both groups having a central authority—for Catholics that Pope; for liberal Protestants reason/rationality. Also, it is worth observing that her definition brings groups like Mennonites and Pentecostals under the umbrella of “evangelical”.)

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