“I think we should take the word ‘evangelical’ back. The word’s been hijacked and it’s wrong, and we need to take it back.”
That’s former megachurch pastor Rob Bell, schooling us on the real meaning of the word “evangelical” while making a passionate plea for reclaiming the word and it’s original meaning for us today.
The word evangelical, he reminds us, is Greek for “good news” and 2,000 years ago, it meant good news for everybody: “a better kind of world, not through condemning and distancing and ostracizing and crushing your enemy, but through loving your enemy and standing in solidarity with everybody who’s been kicked to the edge by the Empire. It was for everybody who needed a helping hand to get up out of the dust.”
How the word evangelical has come to refer to a very narrow voting bloc known for a couple of very narrow policies, he can’t comprehend. How did the word get hijacked like this, he asks? How has evangelical come to mean anti-gay, anti-science, anti-immigrant … “something so far from its original intent which was the good news of God’s love extended to everybody who’s ever felt the boot of the Empire on their neck.”“If it isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody,” Bell boldly claims in the final seconds of the compelling new video. “I’m an evangelical and I believe in good news for everybody.”
What do you think? Is “evangelical,” by Bell’s definition, worth reclaiming? Is it a word that mainline progressive Christians could — and would — reclaim as well?