Who Is an Evangelical? A Plea for Clarity

Published April 7, 2022

WORLD Opinions

It’s fashionable to redefine evangelicalism away from its focus on Jesus Christ and in the direction of labeling the movement as a cultural pariah. Self-designated “exvangelicals” insist that evangelicalism is little more than a right-wing intellectual straightjacket. Some identified as evangelical thought leaders remain incredulous about evangelical support for former President Donald Trump. Supposedly dispassionate academics psychologize, historicize, and pathologize evangelicalism with peer-reviewed sanctimony. But all of them insist that this redefinition is evangelicalism’s own fault, as though it is merely synonymous with Republican politics, hypocrisy, retrograde nostalgia, and a threat to democratic norms.

These attempts to redefine evangelicalism should be seen for what they are: not-so-veiled attempts by cultured despisers to delegitimize conservative Christianity. Evangelicals who want to keep the gospel of Jesus Christ central to evangelical identity and understand that Biblical ethics inform morality and politics should reject these calls for redefining evangelicalism.

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Andrew T. Walker is the managing editor of WORLD Opinions and serves as associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. He resides with his family in Louisville, Ky.

Photo by Worshae on Unsplash

EPPC Fellow Andrew T. Walker, Ph.D., researches and writes about the intersection of Christian ethics, public theology, and the moral principles that support civil society and sound government. A sought-after speaker and cultural commentator, Dr. Walker’s academic research interests and areas of expertise include natural law, human dignity, family stability, social conservatism, and church-state studies. The author or editor of more than ten books, he is passionate about helping Christians understand the moral demands of the gospel and their contributions to human flourishing and the common good. His most recent book, out in May 2021 from Brazos Press, is titled Liberty for All: Defending Everyone’s Religious Freedom in a Secular Age.

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