We need to be reminded m.ore often than we need to be instructed, someone once wisely uttered. It is a characteristically human trait to forget that for which we stand, even though we still stand for it. Last Briefing, Mark Thompson reminded us of the heart of evangelical belief, casting his words in the light of today’s various endeavours to redefine what it means to be an evangelical. He began to describe the distinctives of evangelical theology, starting with the authority of Scripture, the seriousness of sin and the atonement. He continues that task in this article, challenging us to be truly loving and to love the truth, as we clearly adhere to these distinctives: the matters which give us our heart.
The last few years have seen a plethora of books on the subject of evangelicalism. While some writers are critical, the overwhelming majority of them present the picture of a Christian movement which is sweeping all before it, triumphing over both liberalism and ritualism. Evangelical Christianity is making the church at large sit up and take notice. But the triumph is an illusion. Behind the hype, the citation of statistics and the self-congratulation, many evangelicals have become confused and distracted from the critical tasks of evangelism and edification. Part of the cause of this is a new reluctance in some quarters to clarify just what is genuine evangelical belief and practice.