Is "Post-Evangelical" a term of Protest?

I am a post-evangelical.

In a prior post, I defined “evangelicalism.” Now, I want to address a remark which I often hear about the term, which is to characterize it as a term of “protest.”

Some people who characterize themselves as post-evangelical will, in fact, proudly declare that they are protesting against evangelicalism. However, I don’t think of it that way. To the contrary, I like the term because it implies some sense of continuity FROM evangelicalism while also speaking about a future that may – in some respects – differ from evanglicalism. (Jedi Master Dallas Willard is fond of saying that “post-evangelical” does not mean “ex-evangelical”; as usual, he is right).

As a post-evangelical, my faith finds its origin, its “roots” in evangelicalism. My spiritual forefathers and foremothers come from this rich tradition. I am not ashamed of this fact. Rather, I am grateful for what they did in faithfully carrying the gospel through a very difficult century, in which the world was viewed through the harsh lens of modernism. Evangelicalism played an important role in demonstrating how the gospel was fresh and relevant, even in a world that was influenced almost exclusively by scientific and rationalistic thinking.

Having said this, I also like the term “post-evangelical” because it says something about the future that I and my children will face. Just as my spiritual ancestors had to deal with understanding how the gospel was relevant to the particular circumstances of their day, so I have to recognize the same need in my own circumstances. To truly honor what they have done, I – like them – must continue moving forward, and I must also teach my children that they should keep moving.  Thus, rather than simply being what my ancestors were (i.e., an “evangelical”), I must – in my own day – come to understand what it means to be a post-evangelical.


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