I consider myself evangelical, in the best sense of that word. People define the term differently, of course. Some define it by a set of beliefs, especially concerning the authority of scripture and the nature of salvation. Some define it as having to do with a personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Without disputing the importance of any of those criteria, I believe “evangelical” is about the good news, the evangel, the story of Jesus who revealed God to us and who defined by his life and teachings the nature of God’s love and God’s desire for the world.
“Evangelical,” however, has been used to divide the church, which is not good news at all. How can we be evangelical and divide the body of Christ into groups of Christians according to their beliefs and practices? If evangelical has any biblical roots at all, surely those roots grow deep into Jesus Christ, the head of the church which is his body, as the New Testament says. Its claim is that Jesus has made us one, creating a unity of the Spirit which is God’s work. If we do anything to harm the body, to divide the church, we are wounding Christ.