Everybody believes something. What we believe will shape how we live our lives. Some people will try and claim there is no such thing as truth, making that claim the ultimate truth!
There are some things that all historically confessing Christians have claimed as truth, and this is and has been a very broad thing. As a general but important aspect of this, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1648) sums up beautifully the point and purpose of every human being: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."
Barton is an evangelical church in the UK Baptist tradition. The term 'evangelical' is not only over-used in our day, it is misunderstood in equal measure.
Here is what we mean by 'evangelical':
"If someone hold that in the atoning cross of Christ the world was redeemed by a holy God once for all, that there, and only there, sin was judged and broken, that there and only there the race was reconciled and has its access to the face and grace of God - only then has [that person] the genius and the full assurance of the Gospel. If he hold to Christ as his head, then, whatever views he may hold on other heads, he is of Gospel company and Evangelical pale."
P. T. Forsyth
By this definition, we acknowledge a more gospel-centred evangelicalism, which is a priority the Evangelical Churches would do well to think on. We allow for a broad church, not a narrow church. We allow for expansive grace, not restricted grace. And we allow for unity in multiplicity, not a "unity" based on conformity.
The above definition is positive, in that it shows what is not typically required by evangelicals.
So there is no mention of:
- One's doctrine of scripture.
- A church's specific way of organising itself.
- Trinitarianism isn't expressly mentioned.
- Specific eschatological (end-times) views are absent.
- Culture and the place of Christians in it are not addressed.
Many typical "evangelical" specifics or fundamentals - as they are commonly understood and articulated, are conspicuously absent from the above definition. This is why we have not got a bullet-proof list of typical evangelical certainties, because the gospel isn't those things.
Never-the-less, while the points above above are still extremely important, the term "evangelical" is not defined by them, they are merely entailments of the main thing - and the main thing is that the Good News, the evangel, is that "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them" (2 Cor 5:19).
That is what makes one an evangelical because it is the Gospel.
No more. No Less.
God bless you.