What Does Evangelical Mean?

Many people use the term evangelical so loosely that it has lost its meaning. People in the media use evangelical when referring to Christians in general who art at variance with liberal, humanistic religious bodies. The term is often equated to political conservative. But the word evangelical means none of those things.

An evangelical Christian is a person who believes in the doctrine of salvation by the grace of God through the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Saying “I am an evangelical Christian” while believing that people are basically good and all religions lead to God contradicts the term altogether.

The word evangelical comes from the Greek (euangelion) and Latin (evangelium) words for “good news,” which evolved into the word gospel, and has long been in use. In the 16th century Martin Luther and his followers, who stressed justification by faith in Jesus Christ and based their faith on Scripture alone, were known as Evangelicals. 

To claim to be an evangelical while denying that salvation comes to man through the electing grace of God, the atoning work of the Son of God on the cross, and the quickening of the Holy Spirit, not only disqualifies one’s claim to be an evangelical Christian⎯it’s heresy.

It follows, then, that the labeling of all conservative Christians as evangelicals by the news media is a false application of the term. This should come as no surprise, however, since news outlets are, for the most part, critical of all people who cling to the values taught in God’s Holy Word.