Who is an evangelical? Barna’s definition

I’m always curious how people define “evangelical.” According to the most recent Barna report: How People of Faith Voted in the 2008 Election.

Born again Christians” are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. (Respondents are not asked to describe themselves as “born again.)

Evangelicals” meet the born again criteria (described above) plus seven other conditions. Those include:

  1. saying their faith is very important in their life today;

  2. believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians;

  3. believing that Satan exists;

  4. believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works;

  5. believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth;

  6. asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and

  7. describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.

Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended [What you say, not what you do. ;-)]. (Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as “evangelical.”)

What do you think? Does this fit your definition of evangelical? What would you add? What would you take away? How would you define it differently?

I’m interested in the perspectives of both self-reported “insiders” and “outsiders” – of all stripes.

Inquiring minds want to know.

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3 thoughts on “Who is an evangelical? Barna’s definition

  1. Ben, commenting on “evangelicals”. Well, I do agree on the statement that Evangelicals should share their religious beliefs…. but I find it equally important to reflect one’s beliefs in all that one does. That is… through my life, the way I live, I show that I take the gospel and the teachings of Jesus seriously. (With reference to James’ discussion on faith that does not result in works. (James 2:14-26). / Kongo Kalle

  2. I tend to use Barna’s definition. Though it could also be used to describe fundamentalists. I know many who would describe themselves as evangelicals, but don’t fit all his criteria.

  3. Ben says:

    Thanks guys.

    Karl, this was one of the first things I picked up his definitions. BTW, I finally got on your blog today (I’ve been blocked for days; internet service here.)

    Johnny, hope you’ve been surviving the states. I’ve been following you for a while.

    Something the way these “boundary definitions” tend to be phrased always strikes me as a bit funny. Maybe I’m becoming too post-modern and am more interested in positive statements. There’s been a lot more on that elsewhere.

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