Well, actually it would have been a qualified yes, because one of the tenets of the Evangelical movement was “Inerrancy”. I really had to do some mental gymnastics while simultaneously holding my nose to sign a Statement of Faith of an Evangelical church that included a form of the word “Inerrant”.
If truth be known though, my move away from Evangelicalism started long before that.
For as long as I can remember, through my Father’s influence, I have held two views that have limited the sphere of Evangelicalism in which I felt comfortable: I believed in old earth, and I didn’t hold to a “rapture” focused dispensationalism. There was still plenty of room within evangelicalism for those who held positions like mine, but they were certainly limiting the churches in which I would feel comfortable.
I should note, that before anyone dismisses me for “not believing the bible”, I felt that my beliefs on the age of the earth and on end times were entirely consistent with what the bible taught. In fact, I would argue that those who held to a “Rapture” were being the unbiblical ones.
In 1986 I was in a Bible study where the leader tried to dismiss verses that didn’t agree with his Calvinistic viewpoint. Upon further questioning I was provided with a little book entitled “Eternal Security”. My take after reading the book was that the biblical basis for that point of Calvinism was very flimsy. I left my church and started looking for a church that had more of an Arminian perspective.
You can see how the subset of Evangelicalism that was a fit for me was starting to shrink.
In 1990 I went to further my studies and started a Masters of Divinity at an Evangelical seminary. My move from a complementarian to an egalitarian view of leadership had probably started before then, but my exposure to a string of competent women leaders, along with the study of scripture on the topic, put me fully into the egalitarian camp by the time of my graduation in 1993.
My subset of evangelical churches continued to shrink, though not so much as you might think, as complementarianism and Calvinism seemed to be strongly aligned in the Evangelical world.
1994 saw a move to Hamilton, my current community. I should note that from 1994 to 2016 I attended four churches (two of which closed), all of whom were firmly aligned with the Evangelical movement.
So what changed. The first thing was that I became increasingly uncomfortable with the word “Inerrancy”. I know Evangelicals tend to define it in such a way to make the meaning so broad that you could drive a truck through it, but I really developed a distaste for a word that did not seem to encapsulate that which I knew of scripture.
I realized that even if I attended an Evangelical church, I could probably never be a member again, at least as long as membership required adherence to a statement of faith that included inerrancy.
The second thing was the move to legalize gay marriage in Canada, which became law in 2005. Evangelical churches moved to protect themselves and added statements about marriage to their statements of faith. My prior church’s denomination adopted language against gay marriage in 2012. I did find it objectionable that in order to become a member I had to affirm the statement of faith, but that the statement of faith could then be changed without members having any say in the matter. I have written extensively on my thoughts on the matter on this site.
The final straw came in March of 2014, when Evangelicals withdrew child sponsorships from World Vision when World Vision in the U.S.A. changed their hiring practices (then subsequently did a reversal because of the Evangelical outcry). It was at that point that I realized that I no longer wanted to be identified as an Evangelical. As a side note, that event was the final straw for Rachel Held Evans as well as I found out after the fact.
In 2018 I decided I needed to be a little more upfront with my support and I wrote my series on “Why I am an Ally”. At the time I surveyed my Evangelical Pastoral friends about Gay marriage. They universally called it a sin. It was then I decided the split was irrevocable.
There is still a lot I appreciate about Evangelical Theology, especially the desire to let others know about Jesus. Like Michael Spencer, despite all of my criticisms of Evangelicalism, in regards to the importance of placing your trust in Jesus, and encouraging others to to do the same, I would still fit right in.
Finally, There are few other aspects of Evangelical Theology where I don’t necessarily disagree the definitions, but I disagree with the narrowness, and so have moved away in those aspects as well.
Baptism – Like Evangelicals I would practice adult (age of knowledge) baptism by immersion. Unlike Evangelicals I am accepting of those who have been baptized in other ways and forms.
The Christian Life – Klasie described the “Cult of Happiness”: the Evangelical’s need for a “Testimony” to show that his or her life is so much better since becoming a Christian. In the Evangelical world there is little room for lament, for honesty about mental health, for admitting that sometimes life just sucks.
Hell – The Evangelical understanding of Hell is a place of eternal torment. Maybe. I think just as strong a biblical argument can be made for Hell being a purifying force, or an extinguishing force.
There is a lot to unpack here, and I am sure I am missing a few things, but this lays out the path I have taken. I might get criticized for not justifying a lot of my decisions here, but I am not sure that that can be done in the context of a blog. I wrote a thirty page paper once on my views on Baptism – it would make for a VERY long series.
I want to thank all the contributors to Internet Monk, both the writers and the readers. You have been very much a part of this journey, and I am not sure I would have survived spiritually without Michael Spencer, Chaplain Mike and the rest of you. Thank you for walking this path for the last 10+ years with me. But here I am, this many years later, no longer an Evangelical, but still very much in love with Jesus.
As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome.