When I first signed on to blog at Patheos, I expressed my hesitation at being siloed. Nevertheless, I was put in the “Progressive Christian” Portal, formerly called the “Mainline Christian Portal.” I asked that my blog also be listed in the “Evangelical” Portal, and beginning today, I am listed there. And I’m grateful for and happy about this.
Notwithstanding the fact that I’m identified in places like the Washington Post as an “evangelical pastor,” I write about lots of things that are of interest to evangelicals. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say that about half of my readers are evangelicals.
Of course, that’s a disputed word. What, exactly, is an evangelical. I’ve spilled a lot of pixels on that question, as have Scot McKnight and others. Insiders, like Scot and me, tend to think of evangelical as a theological category. In that sense, I probably am evangelical: I have a high view of the Bible, I have a high Christology, and I believe the the spread of the gospel message brings hope and reconciliation to people.
But evangelical is also a cultural marker. Defined by journalists and authors like Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (who, in spite of their attempt to redefine the term, merely exacerbate the problem), evangelical means a person who holds a generally conservative social and political outlook. And if that’s the definition, then I don’t fit.
I’ve written about the evangelical intelligentsia, a small and informal cabal of people who work at institutions in Glen Ellyn, Grand Rapids, Wheaton, and Colorado Springs, who would rather that evangelicals are not influenced by the likes of McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, me, and others. Yet, the comments on this blog bear the proof that lots of evangelicals are reading us, which I welcome.
More diversity of opinion will only enhance evangelicalism. I hope that my peers in the Evangelical Portal at Patheos will welcome my contributions here.