Jon Fitzgerald, who no longer uses the term “evangelical” to describe himself, weighs in on a topic that I’ve often pondered on this blog: What, Exactly, Is an Evangelical? He notes, among other things, how ham-fisted the mainstream media is with the term:
When it became clear that in the popular mind the word evangelical was more a social and political construct than a theological one, it set off a scramble to accurately self-identify in books, articles, and blog posts among evangelicals of all stripes. There are those who defend the theological roots of the term and wish to reclaim it from social rebranding, and others who recognize their own views in the social and political categorization and thus accept the term as is. Still others reject the label outright, ceasing to identify as evangelical altogether.
The result of all this hand wringing and word wrangling is that, in 2012, it is more difficult than ever to know what one means by the term. Today, we have what I call shades of evangelicalism. The term is not going away, but the people it is meant to describe are becoming more and more diverse—politically, theologically, and socially. At the same time, the media is using the term with far greater frequency.
Read the rest of Jon’s column: The 50 Shades of Evangelicalism | Politics | Religion Dispatches.