I used to call myself an evangelical Christian. It was supposed to be a welcoming term, a term that spread across denominations and included people from all walks of life.
The word evangelical came from the Greek euangelion, good news. Evangelicals were the ones who wanted to bring the good news of Jesus’ way of love and blessing, the good news of forgiveness and reconciliation and new life, the good news that life with God is accessible and available here and now for one and all.
I’m saddened by reports like Jonathan Merritt’s, in a review of a new book on the topic, that point to the way evangelicalism has become more and more narrowly defined. Merritt writes,
“Once upon a time, evangelicalism made room for vibrant constituencies including feminists, progressives, Black people and even queer people who shared a born-again experience, held the Bible in high regard and hoped to convert the world with the Christian gospel.”
But evangelicalism in America became associated with conservative, and then white nationalist, politics. People like me—who have moderate political views and see good reasons why Christians might disagree with one another about any number of political issues—didn’t fit within evangelicalism anymore.
I’m now starting to call myself a Christian humanist, as explained in this conversation between David Brooks and Luke Bretherton. Bretherton says Christian humanism finds our humanity in the humanity of Jesus and seeks to live out of that place:
“[Christian humanism] puts front and centre a movement into the place of suffering, oppression, and weakness, not a movement above and beyond it. Because that is the place where Jesus shows up. That is the place you really get to discover both who Jesus is and what human flourishing is.”
Christian humanism spans denominational and political dividing lines. It points us towards a shared and diverse humanity that centers on the story of Jesus, who came and lived and taught and died and rose again. It brings us back to the good news.
More with Amy Julia:
- The Blessings of a Small Church
- I’m a Denominational Mutt
- S4 E5 | Healing the Harm of White Evangelicalism with Kristin Du Mez
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