Evangelicals Who Are Not Evangelicals – This blog post by Thomas Kidd is worth reading. He identifies four groups that usually get the appellation of Evangelical by the press or in church parlance. The word is not as elastic as it is currently and wrongly used. Evangelicals never thought Rachel Held Evans was an Evangelical even before she announced she was leaving Evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church. Rob Bell is still being described as an Evangelical. A good number of the Young, Restless and Reformed are called Evangelical though in fact they do not so self-identify. The list goes on. Thomas Kidd’s recent biography of George Whitefield identifies him as the Father of Evangelicalism. I agree. It is a transdenominational ethos that brings orthodox believers together for cooperative purposes of revival and mission. The classic definition is given by David Bebbington.
George Barna has not helped in this matter. John Piper has pointed out that Barna has so dumbed down (my words) the definition of Evangelical that it is worthless as a category that has any definite meaning, much less Christian. Piper has expressed concern about the amount of damage Barna’s inaccuracies have caused traditional Evangelical churches who are painted darker by Barna than they should be. See Ben Witherington’s series of blog posts on Barna and compatriot Frank Viola. His criticism is part of the fabric of larger concerns about loose definitions and inaccurate information.