Awkward Continuationist: Both/And

Any group of people that spends a lot of time together — athletes, artists, coworkers, volunteers, churches — will develop their unique tidbits of jargon. 

Jargon isn’t a bad thing, as long as you take the time to explain what it means to outsiders. At its best, jargon serves as a sort of “verbal short-hand,” where complex ideas can be quickly communicated without having to go into detail each and every time. 

For example, Canadians nation-wide know the meaning of “double-double” (coffee, two creams, two sugars). It’s helpful jargon, and only becomes a problem if you use it outside of Canada and expect people to understand. 

A classic slogan in the Vineyard is: “Evangelical in theology, charismatic in practice.” We usually define this jargon as, “the best of both worlds: the solid preaching of the evangelicals and the openness to the Spirit of the charismatics.” 

Of course, even though we intended the phrase as a compliment to both groups, it sometimes backfires. 

Evangelicals: “What do you mean by that? Are you insinuating we don’t have the Spirit?”

Pentecostals and charismatics: “What are you suggesting? That we’ve got lousy preaching?”

The phrase got me thinking about the “radical middle” between evangelical and charismatic, and specifically, what I appreciate about my conservative evangelical roots. On one hand, it’s pretty basic. But on the other, I’m always running into Christians who’ve just recently discovered (or searching for) the same things. A few examples: 

1. God loves me. Period.

There is nothing I can say or do that will make Jesus love me more.

There is nothing I can say or do that will make Jesus love me less.

2. There is no condemnation.

I’m amazed by the numbers of Christians who walk around feeling condemned. Every generation seems to  wrestle with it. I’m thankful to have learned that the story of St. Paul’s struggle with sin in Romans 7 is answered immediately in Romans 8.

3. God isnt one-dimensional.

Hes quite capable of loving us and yet also despising our sin and its effects.

God can be angry at injustice and yet show mercy to the perps.

He is the Holy King, Lord, God Almighty, and yet Jesus calls us friends.

God is a righteous Judge, and God is a loving Father.

These are just a few, but I’m grateful to my evangelical upbringing for teaching them to me.

“Evangelical” has become a favorite scapegoat for anyone with a bone to pick or an axe to grind. But Id like to suggest that if some believers have never learned that (e.g.) theres no condemnation, the problem isn’t evangelicalism.

If anything, it might mean some churches haven’t been evangelical enough.

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