Evangelical – What’s in a word?

I’m headed to Indianapolis with a colleague today to represent IVP Academic at “The State of the Evangelical Mind,” a symposium sponsored by a consortium of evangelical institutions. You can read more about it here.

Here’s how the conference is envisioned:

This symposium offers a context in which participants can reflect upon [the] past but also think critically about the prospects for the future of the evangelical mind.  Those prospects will depend in many ways upon the influence of evangelical churches, universities, and seminaries.  What role then will each one of those institutions play?  What kinds of relationships will they need to share with one another?  What kinds of relationships will churches, universities, and seminaries need to forge with other institutions? 

It promises to be a rich time, and one that comes a couple of months before we release an edited volume posing the question: still evangelical?

Edited by Fuller’s Mark Labberton, Still Evangelical? explores the question: what’s in a word? Has this word become so thoroughly debased in our cultural context that it is no longer helpful? Can we reclaim the word? Does it need reclaiming?

There are myriad ways to approach the question and that’s part of the reason this promises to be a stimulating read. Personally, I am uncomfortable both with what passes for evangelical in our culture and also with abandoning the word. Why? This: if we do abandon the word, we will be ceding ground to the same cultural forces that won’t be satisfied by this move. It may well set the stage for future abdications.