Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What is an "Evangelical"?



As you know, I am no fan of Nancy Pelosi, but as much as I try not to...I like her daughter Alexandra. She made the documentaries "Journeys with George", "Diary of a Political Tourist" and now "Friends of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi" (currently on HBO).

"The estimated 50 to 80 million evangelical Christians living in America today have become a formidable force in our culture and democracy. But the evangelical movement is a big tent. To try and get a better understanding of the range and diversity of this community, intrepid filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi hit the road to meet some evangelicals and learn about what their influence may mean for the future of the country."

This is an absolutely fascinating look at "evangelical Christians"...though I'm still left not exactly knowing what that term means. In the beginning of the film, one of the pastors defines an Evangelical as "Someone that believes that Jesus Christ is God's son and believes that the only way to heaven is accepting him as your Lord and Savior". So, I believe that. According to that definition I am an Evangelical Christian.

BUT, as the documentary progresses I want to distance myself as far as I can from that label. Not because the Pelosi daughter cast them in a bad light or presented a biased view (she didn't IMO), but because after that simple definition there is a huge ideological divide between those in the movie and me.
They say unequivocally there is no way you can be a Christian and believe in evolution. I believe in evolution. I also believe in creation. I don't see why they have to be mutually exclusive. I believe God created the world and it has been evolving ever since. I don't necessarily believe that the 7 days the world was created in was a literal 7 days. Does the fact that I believe in scientific evidence of species evolving nullify my place in heaven? I think it does according to these people. Does the fact that I think it's wrong they equate abortion and Terri Schiavo exclude me from their acceptance? Yeah, I think it does.

This film brought up a lot of emotions for me. A renewed disgust at what men do to God's word. A feeling of relief that there are still so many that hold morality as sacred value. A desire to confront some of these pastor's with my own take on their edicts. A sense that the ACLU may not succeed in taking over my country... But mainly a feeling that when it comes to a religious label, I don't really fit in anywhere...

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