It would seem almost to be a minor detail. All of a sudden the word Evangelical has become lower cased. Evangelical is now diversified into evangelicals. Once it was a reference to the Billy Graham Evangelical. The NeoEvangelicals, to be exact. Fundamentalists who interacted with society and loved the poor. Now it’s become evangelicals, meaning anyone with enough media pull, a big enough church, or a book on the New York Times bestseller list. Thus evangelicals are those who Christianity Today says they are. Or the National Association of Evangelicals. Or the National Religious Broadcasters. Sigh. This still doesn’t answer the question. The question of who claims to speak for evangelicals doesn’t answer the question of who they are.
Let’s face facts. Evangelicals have long been using opinion polls, government and private statistics to form their identity. Why do we do this? For umph, for pull, and yes for power. But let’s ask what polls cannot do. They cannot with any real determination define us as humans. If the central tenet of evangelicalism is belief in a Personal God who loves and relates to each part of humanity without bias, then why are evangelicals so concerned with power as a group and maintaining the distinct market grouping known as evangelical? Why do we take advantage of every wind of change in order to broker power? If, as Chuck Colson says, there is a changing of the guard going on, I pray the next guard sees through the power game and begins a divestment from it and a focus on people and creation.