September 29, 2009
Rob Bell Defines "Evangelical"
While on his "Drops Like Stars" tour, Rob Bell spoke with Michael Paulson from the Boston Globe. (Read the full interview.) The conversation turned to the meaning of the word evangelical. Bell provides an interesting, and likely contestable, definition. The excerpt is below.
But the interview raises an important question--has the word evangelical been corrupted? Is it still useful? And do you still embrace the category or have you abandoned it for another label?
From The Boston Globe:
Q. What does it mean to you to be an evangelical?
A. I take issue with the word to a certain degree, so I make a distinction between a capital E and a small e. I was in the Caribbean in 2004, watching the election returns with a group of friends, and when Fox News, in a state of delirious joy, announced that evangelicals had helped sway the election, I realized this word has really been hijacked. I find the word troubling, because it has come in America to mean politically to the right, almost, at times, anti-intellectual. For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context.
Q. OK, how would you describe what it is that you believe?
A. I embrace the term evangelical, if by that we mean a belief that we together can actually work for change in the world, caring for the environment, extending to the poor generosity and kindness, a hopeful outlook. That’s a beautiful sort of thing.
Read the full interview here.
**UPDATE** Rob Bell has responded to the Globe interview on his Twitter account. He says that most of what he said was left out of the interview, and calls it "maddening." He also goes on to clarify the historical roots of the word "evangelical." Read more on Bell's Twitter page.