Talking Like Evangelicals? Being Like Evangelicals?

People were talking like evangelicals at the United Methodist Church that I attended this morning.  More than one person talked about God speaking to them and being led by the Holy Spirit.  Someone else was claiming Hebrews 13:2, which talks about entertaining strangers and angels unaware.  The man’s son was recently in an accident, and he was talking about how angels were helping him and his wife on their journey to their son.  You usually hear people claiming Bible verses in charismatic Christianity!

I actually like these displays of energetic, enthusiastic faith.  Of course, a lot of my reaction depends on the context.  If people are talking about the times that they believe that God has helped them, how they think God has guided them towards positive and righteous decisions and outlooks, and their sense of wonder when people at church are getting along in love, harmony, and purpose, then my reaction is rather favorable.  If people use “God told me” to rubber-stamp their peculiar ideas or opinions, to try to control me or others, to aggrandize themselves, or to force conformity, then I tend to recoil from that.  What I saw at church this morning was the former.

Of course, am I really that surprised that people at a liberal mainline Protestant church see God as a real, active person?  The pastor is a fan of Christian mysticism!  Maybe the church is liberal on social justice, and it does not necessarily embrace an inerrantist view of the Bible.  Still, it sees God as real—-as one with whom people can have a relationship.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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1 Response to Talking Like Evangelicals? Being Like Evangelicals?

  1. Laura says:

    Your post caught my attention. UMC’s can vary. I attend a UMC that is very evangelical: how they talk about God, the salvation experience (born again/being saved), inerrancy of Scripture, stance on moral issues, etc. They do baptism by immersion. People bring their Bibles to church and the congregation is encouraged to open their Bible and find the passage. And it is growing by leaps and bounds since a pastor and assistant pastor came about 5 yrs ago who really increased the evangelical influence. The congregation has reached around 1,000 and continuing to grow. I am in the southeast. I’ve attended this church a couple years now. I’ve read that UMC’s can typically end up “looking” like the church culture around them. In a liberal area they are more liberal, in a conservative area more conservative, etc. But having only been in the UMC for a couple yrs I am no expert on them! Coming from a very conservative and traditional evangelical background, if you had told me 10 yrs ago I would now be attending a UMC I would have cried that I become liberal. haha, but true. But this particular UMC is not liberal. Anyway…

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