Barnabas the Apostle
Evangelicalism works well as a descriptor of some aspects of one's theology. It can be a good thing to have a theology that is evangelical, but that theology should cover more than what is encapsulated in that word. Specifically, to be an evangelical Christian does not necessarily imply a particular theology of sacraments, practices of spiritual formation, ecclesiology and church order, or even a particular eschatology. Christians need those things on at least a notional level, so "evangelical is not enough," and not just for the reasons Thomas Howard argues. To be an evangelical ought not require stopping at those four distinctives; it was never meant to engender theological minimalism. Maybe for that reason, it's a category mistake to suppose that "evangelical" can be a basis for one's theology, and rather one needs to have a tradition first, and then assess whether it's "evangelical" or not.
When "creeping fundamentalism" insists that "evangelical" must connote notions of inerrancy and the rapture and the utter lack of sacramental theology and only a "gathered" ecclesiology and a haphazard revivalistic conception of spiritual formation, it's just trying to steal a word and use it to draw up barriers between Christians who could otherwise be united on some basic concepts, which is the very antithesis of what evangelicalism set out to be historically. When one has to believe bullet points "A" through "R" to be an "evangelical," and the highest good is to be an "evangelical," the whole enterprise of the name has become pointless and the original movement has been lost. One kind reader has suggested that if we absolutely must be adding things, does it really do us any good to have the word?
On that note, I would suggest that the word itself isn't worth fighting for, and might not be worth even "reclaiming."
In addition, because some folks have done such a good job of redefining evangelicalism as a divisive movement best known for what it's against, I don't find it at all helpful to call myself an "evangelical" when talking with other Christians or anybody else. It would be nice, however to take that word back. I think if I were asked if I'm an evangelical, I would have to answer something like, "tell me what you think it means first," and maybe talk about what I think is important rather than using the label.
There's a good post at To the Quiet suggesting how we might wish to take all such discussions with a rather large grain of salt: "Pantybundled."
What do y'all think?
(Be nice, now. Please know that I don't consider myself to be attacking anyone or anything in this, but I'm suggesting that a particular word might not be useful anymore. I'm sure that good, faithful, intelligent brothers and sisters in the faith will want to keep the word; I just don't happen to know why.)