Like Button

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Language Fails ... Again

This is an interesting study. According to this survey by LifeWay Research, there is a real problem with "evangelicals."

About 1 in 4 Americans identify as evangelical Christians. (If you ask me, if a genuine 1 in 4 Americans are actually Christians, I would be delightfully surprised.) An interesting number, but it only breaks down from there. You see, the term, "evangelical," includes a set of beliefs. And, as it turns out, about 45% of those who identify as evangelicals actually agree with evangelical beliefs. But wait! There are a significant number of Christians who do agree with evangelical beliefs who reject the term, "evangelical." According to the study, only 69% of those who hold the beliefs identify themselves as evangelicals. And all of the sudden, we're in really murky waters. So when we hear that "81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump," you might begin to see that this is a vague concept. What evangelicals? Were they evangelicals? What does that number actually tell us? Precious little, I think. (Note: That claim was aimed specifically at "white evangelicals" -- that is, voters (as opposed to those who didn't vote) who self-identify (given the vague nature of "self-identify" versus "actual") as evangelicals (considering the problem of whether they really hold evangelical beliefs or not) who are white (as opposed to other ethnicities). Among self-identified evangelicals, 58% are white, 23% are African-American, 14% are Hispanic, and the rest are another ethnicity. More confusion regarding evangelicals and voting.)

I found this data after reading an article complaining (again) about the misguided claim about the 81% of white evangelicals that voted for Trump. The number is misleading. It implies that American evangelicals all love Trump (or, at least, 80% of them do), but 1) it ignores the 40% of evangelicals that didn't vote (Do the math. If 80% of voting evangelicals voted for him and only 60% of evangelicals voted, then only some 48% of evangelicals voted for him.), 2) ignores the fact that only 58% of evangelicals are white (leaving an inconclusive number of evangelicals that voted for him when all ethnicities are included), and 3) since "evangelical" is defined solely as "I said I was," it appears to make the claim nearly meaningless.

To me, however, the most disturbing part is the entire collapse of "evangelical." Less than 15% of Americans claim to believe in the doctrines that the term "evangelical" was intended to convey, but we're all pretty sure that "evangelical" is your basic politically conservative representative of what Christians are ... except that many of today's self-professed evangelicals are not representatives of what "evangelical" means. And once again we'll have to go hunting for a new term that expresses what "saved", "born again", "fundamentalist", "Bible-believing", and "evangelical" (in my lifetime) were all intended to convey but no longer do. We're not talking about your "CINO" -- Christian-in-name-only. We're talking about people who have a saving relationship with Christ. People keep stealing the old words; I need a new word.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Since we sons/daughters of Abraham, and sons/daughters of the promise, therefore our new name should be : Abramites... sounds cool. but keep it a secret. next week ill think of an new hand shake to go with it.

it is the same old battle for words. i noted that one of my spiritual gifts test said that i have a strong Evangelical gift. Really??? since we can't agree on what that even means, i guess it will just have to stay in the closet with all my other broken toys.

sometimes it seems we coin a phase, then it becomes a hard symbol, then yesterdays flavor, then modified/morphed, until it has no meaning at all, or ironically enough, it means the opposite. exp: Gay , was wonderful word, joyful , happy, we could all have a gay all time.
Now: it means i have a mental illness and i am proud of it.