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    Winter / Spring 1997 [Newsletter Banner]

Discarding the Baggage Why...Call...Ourselves
Discarding the Baggage
Perils of Pluralism
Owning Our Agenda

Still, when the board was considering names for this organization, they deliberately chose the word evangelical as the best of the available options to identify the focus of this ministry. Here is what the term means when we use it.

  • First, evangelical means we are committed to the Bible as the authoritative word of God, our only infallible guide for faith and life.

  • Second, evangelical means we believe that Jesus Christ was God in human form, that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless, exemplary life, and that He died on the cross and rose from the dead in order to make it possible for sinful human beings to have their sins forgiven and be rightly related to the one, true, holy, powerful and personal God of the universe.

  • Third, evangelical means we believe that every human being must acknowledge his or her sin and exercise personal faith in Jesus and His work on the cross in order to experience salvation and new birth.

  • And fourth, evangelical means that it is both the privilege and the responsibility of the Christian community, the church of Jesus Christ, to use every means at its disposal to communicate the good news (i.e. the evangel) of salvation through Christ to those who have not yet believed, inviting them to repentance and faith and to join us as members of the family of God, the body of Christ, followers of Jesus whose lives of faithful discipleship give tangible, visible evidence of the inner transformation that has come about through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Doctrinal Foundations

That is the technical, theological definition of the term evangelical as we use it. But that's not all it means to us. By calling ourselves evangelical, we are deliberately identifying with a broader community of Christian believers. In so doing, we have not abandoned one single dimension of our Anabaptist heritage. We simply want to declare that, for us, there is not the slightest inconsistency in identifying ourselves both as Anabaptists and as evangelical Christians. This broader identification affords several additional benefits.

First of all, it helps to keep us on track doctrinally. Whatever else the term evangelical may imply, it is, first of all, a doctrinal word. It ties us to a body of belief which has been at the core of orthodox Christianity for twenty centuries. Those core beliefs are expressed concisely in the Statement of Faith of the National Association of Evangelicals, and we subscribe to them without reservation. (I might note here that several of the denominations represented by our membership, such as the Brethren in Christ, the Mennonite Brethren and the Evangelical Mennonite Church, are members of NAE. The Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church are not NAE members.)

This focus on doctrine makes EAF an oddity in a communion, such as contemporary Mennonite/Anabaptism, which touts its "non-creedal" character and its preference for orthopraxy over orthodoxy. We are convinced, however, that such doctrinal "looseness," which many applaud, has given rise to a theological pluralism which threatens the spiritual integrity of our tradition.

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© 1996 Evangelical Anabaptist Fellowship