Avoiding Arrogance

I appreciated Jim Wallis’ plea for more precision in how the word “evangelical” is used in our society and especially in the media (“Defining ‘Evangelicals’ in an Election Year,” February 2012).

I attended three seminaries. The first one was in the buckle of the Bible belt, known for its fundamentalist stance with regard to the Bible’s inerrancy. The second seminary called itself “neo-evangelical,” in an attempt to distance itself from fundamentalism’s theological conundrums and self-righteous attitudes. The third was mainline Protestant and characterized itself as “neo-orthodox,” distancing itself from fundamentalism and neo-evangelicals.

All three were comfortable with the term “evangelical.” All three quoted the church fathers and the reformers as if they were members of their respective faculties. And, if the truth be told, all three preached the gospel of Jesus Christ but couched it carefully within their ideological canons. I also learned that none of the three had a corner on the gospel truth, and they often unfairly caricatured the other camps’ positions.

Ronn Garton
San Diego, California

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