In her column on my marriage views, “Separation of church and state in marriage?“, Lisa Miller introduces me to her readers as “one well-known evangelical pastor in Minneapolis.”
“In Minneapolis”? Yep.
“Evangelical pastor”? I don’t think so.
To me, a pastor is someone who pastors — that is, someone who shepherds a group of people (usually referred to as a congregation), and who does that in a church (i.e., an InterVarsity staff person on a college campus is not, to my mind, is not a pastor). While I occasionally preach, and even perform the odd wedding and funeral, I’m not a pastor. She should have called me an “ordained clergyman.” (I would also think that the Washington Post style guide would require her to refer to me as “the Rev. Dr.” But that’s another issue altogether.)
More odd yet is that Miller calls me evangelical. She didn’t ask me to identify myself as such, nor did she mention the word in our conversations. I don’t claim to be an evangelical anywhere in my books or blogs. And if she downloaded my bio from my website, the only thing that would qualify me as an evangelical, I think, is that I received an M.Div. from an evangelical seminary and some of my books have been published by evangelical publishers.
“Evangelical” seems to me a adjective that one can claim for oneself, but it doesn’t seem like someone can put that on you from a quick glance at your CV. That’s why I’ve pushed for the term “incarnational Christian” to describe myself.
My mistake, I guess, was in not making that clear when a reporter called me. It’s a mistake that I won’t make again.