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Evangelical, Charismatic, Fundamentalist Etc - Definition Of Terms?


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Actually a very good book on this subject is "Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Allister McGrath.

 

From Amazon's book review: "The dangerous idea was Martin Luther's: that individual believers could and should read the Bible for themselves. The result was occasionally violent (as in the peasants' revolt and the English Civil War), occasionally brilliant (musicians like Bach, theologians like Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, poets like Milton) and certainly world altering (the Calvinist Reformation clearing space for the rise of secular science and capitalism). McGrath concludes not with the faith practices of present-day England or America, but with the increasingly Pentecostal global south. The book occasionally falls into the dry tone of a textbook and assumes points that historians would want to debate, but is still the most readable introduction to the history, theology and present-day practices of Protestantism."

 

An excellent read if you are seriously asking a serious question.

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  • 1 month later...

I would like to add about the word evangelical, that it can also be used as "3: of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels" (Merriam-Webster Online).

 

I'm Finnish and here we have the national "Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland". I was taught that it's called evangelical because the church emphasizes on the gospels. So, evangelical here does not refer to evangelizing. I know it's confusing because the word evangelical is mostly used in another way (the way many of you have explained the word here). I'll probably drop the "Evangelical" from the front of Lutheran so it doesn't get mixed up.

 

Just wanted to point that out.

 

Nice thread. :)

 

neo

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Evangelical? Men are typically seen wearing ill fitting charcoal gray suits, white shirt, and plain ties, with cordovan shoes. Women technically can wear pants, but are discouraged from doing so. Hair worn conservatively usually cut at Supercuts or the local equivalent.

 

Charismatic? Tend to dress casually. Many of the men sport gray pony tails and leather jackets with Harley Davidson patches. Women typically don't wear makeup and are usually overweight by at least 40-50 lbs.

 

Pentacostal? Loud pin striped suits with Italian style or even Zoot style padding is acceptable and a standard if you are preaching. Big white or platinum blond hair is in vogue. Women wear way too much make up and are often seen wearing a late 60's / early 70's bouffant hairstyle.

 

Fundamentalist? Men wear their hair high and tight. Women straight and long. Men wear suits of medium quality, typically Navy blue with brown shoes and a white shirt or dress slacks with a button up white shirt and a burgundy tie. All women wear dresses that have been out of style for at least 30 years. Everyone wears horn rimmed glasses with black frames. No exceptions.

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All of these terms have one thing in common in the bible belt of the USA. They describe a type of christian belief system that is totally interwoven with far right-wing political beliefs. Actually, there was a meeting in around 1984 between far-right leaders of the Republican Party and evangelical and fundamentalist leaders (some of whom were also charismatic or penticostal). Out of this meeting came a strange alliance between the Republican party (which had historically attracted persons of higher than average wealth) and these religious groups (whose members tend to have lower than average wealth). In the agreement that formed the basis of this strange alliance, the Republicans promised to oppose abortion, birth control, homosexuality, and legalization of some drugs in exchange for support from these religions groups. So, from an economic standpoint, we have ended up with members of these religious groups voting against their own economic interests by voting Republican solely because the Republicans support them on "wedge issues" like abortion.

 

I used to live "smack-dab" in the middle of the bible belt. (I don't anymore, thank God -- pun intended!). Churches of this type were well known for preaching right wing politics from the pulpit (in violation of IRS regulations for tax exempt church status). The southern baptist churches were among the worse. they actually distributed a church newspaper to their members TELLING them who to vote for and how to vote on ballot questions -- all on the Republican side, of course. I used to joke that I went to a baptist church and instead found myself in a Republican meeting! Then I went to the local Republican Party headquarters and found myself in a baptist church service! But this isn't actually funny. It's true, and it is grinding down our First Amendment rights.

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Mountainman: Having been raised in the Independent Baptist Church (fundamentalist) I can tell you that the political stuff started happening the the 1980s with the "Moral Majority" of Jerry Falwell. I have to say he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in getting fundamentalist Christianity intertwined with politics. No, it isn't funny. Now we have few to no choices to get someone elected that doesn't try to pander to this element of Christian fundamentalism.

 

I think Falwell's political mailings should have been nipped in the bud and his church as well as every other church that preaches politics should be taxed. Yes, these Baptists are responsible for most of it.

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  • 10 months later...

The Charismatic experience is synonymous with the Pentecostal experience. I honestly don't know the etymology of how the word "Charismatic" became applied to them. I imagine it was more because they were so 'passionate' and 'expressive' in their faith?

 

Actually, 'Charismatic' referred to that kind of thing before it acquired the modern meaning of 'charming'. It comes from a Greek word for 'gift', and the gifts it refers to in Christian theology are the 'gifts of the spirit' (see Romans 12:6). Being charming is of course something that also can be seen as a gift, but the word would probably not have made its way from Greek to English in the first place unless Christianity had brought it.

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I would like to add about the word evangelical, that it can also be used as "3: of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels" (Merriam-Webster Online).

 

I'm Finnish and here we have the national "Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland". I was taught that it's called evangelical because the church emphasizes on the gospels. So, evangelical here does not refer to evangelizing. I know it's confusing because the word evangelical is mostly used in another way (the way many of you have explained the word here). I'll probably drop the "Evangelical" from the front of Lutheran so it doesn't get mixed up.

 

Just wanted to point that out.

 

Nice thread. smile.gif

 

neo

Of course, the connotations and semantic drifts involved in these words in different languages are rather notable; compare, e.g. how Swedish has evangelikal for a certain kind of ideology and evangelisk for things pertaining to the gospels. The name of the Finnish church: evankelis-luterilainen uses a rather odd form; Finnish too, btw, kinda has two distinct things: the evankelis- in evankelis-luterilainen kirkko does not signify the same things as evankelikalismi does.

 

Also see the rather disparate meanings of evankelisuus: https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evankelisuus, you get on one end the united protestant church in Germany (which is very liberal these days, as clergy aren't even required to believe in the trinity), protestantism in general, a certain set of religious awakening-movements ...

 

Words are flexible things, and it's not unusual that what they signify is very sensitive to context.

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