#1 Are Evangelicals Protestant?
Although Evangelical is often a term that is used generally to describe Christians, Evangelical can have differing meanings. While Protestants are typically an Americanized form of Christianity, there are Evangelical Protestants and also the separate classification of Mainland Protestants. With so many denominations, there is easily confusion amongst the similarities and differences.
An easy way to understand the scope of this is that Evangelical Protestantism is the largest Christian denomination in the United States, which is precisely why the terms get thrown around so generally. About 25.4% of all American adults consider themselves to be Evangelical Protestant. Three-quarters of them are white, and 49% of them reside in the South.
A major principle of being an evangelical is that you believe in the power of baptisms and being born again. Rebirth and repentance are common themes in Evangelicalism. This is also true in other Protestant denominations such as Baptism, Methodist, and Adventism.
- “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”‘ – Matthew 28:18-20.
- Are You Evangelical? Factsandtrends.net; Published by LifeWay Christian Resources on July 25th, 2018.
#2 Why Evangelicals Go Catholic?
It is common for Evangelicals to convert to Catholicism and vice-versa. We can only list these reasons as subjective notions, being that people convert religions for emotional reasons.
There is not quantifiable data which can support these points, but the general and subjective reasons that an Evangelical may convert to Catholicism are:
- Catholics appreciate tradition more
- Catholics place less focus on scripture (with many traditions not found in scripture like the veneration of Mary)
- Catholics are considered closer to the extension of Christ’s incarnation, with their church considered holier by some than some newer denominations
- Some consider Catholics to have a clearer theology and identity, with Evangelicalism being too open-ended for their liking
- Catholics enjoy more rituals
- Catholics have a deeper-rooted history that Evangelicals can be attracted to
- Catholics are more open to drinking alcohol
- Some leave saying they want, I quote, a ‘more vibrant and personal relationship with Christ’
Some believe the dissatisfaction to come form disenchantment. Thegospelcoalition.org describes of his outlook:
“Add to this the eagerness of many Protestant churches to make God “seeker-friendly,” and we are left with congregations of people wondering what exactly it was they were seeking—nothing, it seems, that they couldn’t have found in an inspiring Ted Talk or pop concert.
As such souls crave divine encounter that rises above the mundane, materialistic, and digitally depleting mode of secular life, they are instead treated to light shows, projectors, and interactive “tweet-the-pastor” sermons.
Those who convert often come from this disenchanted group. Hungry for a grandeur and authority from above, they wander into a Catholic Mass and hear for the first time the singing of a Sanctus, observe the reverential breaking of the bread, and are struck by the humility of bowing in the presence of God. It’s the via pulchritudinis about which Bishop Robert Barron often speaks—the “way of beauty”—found in the consecrated host, cathedrals, holy water, incense, candles, and various sacramentals that bespeak the mysterious presence of Christ.”
From this perspective, the convert was seeking something richer and more serious. This is just one of the many reasons that people move between these two denominations, either seeking something lighter (Catholicism to Evangelicalism) or something more serious (Evangelicalism to Catholicism).
This competitive drive goes both ways. Catholicculture.org describes:
“The same trend is visible in the United States.American Catholic leaders have also expressed a great concern about the growth of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in this country, a growth that often comes through Catholics leaving their churches. Here, statistics are hard to come by.”
In response to the query ‘why is this evangelical procurement happening? Americamagazine.org answers in their piece ‘Why Evangelical Megachurches are Embracing (some) Catholic Traditions:’
“Why are megachurches and formerly iconoclastic mainline denominations looking more like Catholic parishes in terms of liturgy and practices even as some Catholics are, late to the party as usual, imitating evangelicals and building churches with big screens that look more like suburban dentist’s offices than places where heaven and earth kiss.”
As it would appear on the outside –
Both Catholics and Evangelicals feel that the other is ripping them off to some degree, or at least trying to take more of their disciples. This is surprising considering the Christian-rooted similarities, despite their discrepancies in the debate of scripture vs. tradition. In 1994, there was even a document created and signed by each denominations’ leaders titled, ‘Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium;” a doctrine that spelled out their agreement on social issues and morality.
Despite these attempts at compromise, perhaps their differences are too strong and created a competitive drive against one another to obtain the most converts.
· “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38.
- What Do Protestant Evangelicals and Roman Catholics Disagree About – Crossway; Published October 27th, 2019.
#3 Can Evangelicals Drink Alcohol?
Yes, Evangelical Christians can drink alcohol, and there is no law against it; however, the Church fights passionately to advocate for a life free of substance, drugs, and intoxication. These are all seen as hinderances to one’s worship and partitions between you and God.
Ultimately, the Church does not support drinking, but more than half of Evangelicals drink anyway.
In a LifeWay Research study comparing 2007 drinking rates to 2017 amongst Protestants, a larger sect of Evangelicalism, it was found that:
- 41% drank alcohol in 2017, as compared to 39% in 2007
- 59% did not drink alcohol in 2017, as compared to 61% in 2007
What these figures show is an 18% increase in the number of Protestants consuming alcohol across 10 years. Nearly 1 in 5 people is quite a significant jump. Translating these figures to another 2017 study conducted by PewResearch.org, in which they found that specifically about White Evangelical Protestants:
- 45% had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days
- 12% had engaged in binge drinking in the last 30 days
These figures were even higher for non-Evangelical Protestants and Black Protestants. Nonetheless, it was discovered that Protestants still consume less alcohol than Catholics.
- The National Association for Evangelicals – Some Evangelical Leaders Drink: “Responding to the May 2010 Evangelical Leaders Survey question, “Do you socially drink alcohol?”, 60 percent said “no” while 40 percent said “yes.”’
“Alcohol and its effects have been a major challenge in American society,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals. “Just as society has dealt with it, as evidenced in the 18th and 21st amendments, so have evangelicals looked at how to appropriately interact with alcohol.”
- “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” – Romans 14:21.
- Is Drinking a Sin – Can Christians Have Alcohol? Published by Christianity.com on March 23rd, 2020.
#4 Can Evangelicals Learn from World Religions?
Yes, Evangelicals can learn from world religions in the same way that everyone can learn from anyone. The hope is that they can learn from others without compromising or distorting their central devotion to Christ.
In the merit-winner of the 2001 Christianity Today Award, Gerald McDermott wrote his book, Can Evangelicals Learn From World-Religions? A snippet from his discussions are:
“Arguably, the church’s greatest challenge in the next century will be the problem of the scandal of particularity. More than ever before, Christians will need to explain why they follow Jesus and not the Buddha or Confucius or Krishna or Muhammed.
But if, while relating their faith to the faiths, Christians treat non-Christian religions as netherworlds of unmixed darkness, the church’s message will be a scandal not of particularity but of arrogant obscurantism. “Recent evangelical introductions to the problem of other religions have built commendably on foundations laid by J. N. D. Anderson and Stephen Neill. Anderson and Neill opened up the “heathen” worlds to the evangelical West, showing that many non-Christians also seek salvation and have personal relationships with their gods.
In the last decade Clark Pinnock and John Sanders have argued for an inclusivist understanding of salvation, and Harold Netland has shed new light on the question of truth in the religions. Yet no evangelicals have focused–as nonevangelicals Keith Ward, Diana Eck and Paul Knitter have done–on the revelatory value of truth in non-Christian religions. Anderson and Neill showed that there are limited convergences between Christian and non-Christian traditions, and Pinnock has argued that there might be truths Christians can learn from religious others. But as far as I know, no evangelicals have yet examined the religions in any sort of substantive way for what Christians can learn without sacrificing, as Knitter and John Hick do, the finality of Christ.
“This book is the beginning of an evangelical theology of the religions that addresses not the question of salvation but the problem of truth and revelation, and takes seriously the normative claims of other traditions. It explores the biblical propositions that Jesus is the light that enlightens every person (Jn 1:9) and that God has not left Himself without a witness among non-Christian traditions (Acts 14:17). It argues that if Saint Augustine learned from Neo-Platonism to better understand the gospel, if Thomas Aquinas learned from Aristotle to better understand the Scriptures, and if John Calvin learned from Renaissance humanism, perhaps evangelicals may be able to learn from the Buddha–and other great religious thinkers and traditions–things that can help them more clearly understand God’s revelation in Christ. It is an introductory word in a conversation that I hope will go much further among evangelicals.”
- “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:18.
- “That the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:17.
- Contemporary Religion in a Historical Perspective – Open.Ak.UK Religious Studies; Published June 15th, 2020.
#5 Can Evangelicals Get Married?
Yes, marriage is a core belief of Evangelical Christians. It is said that the only thing that takes priority over one’s marriage, is God.
The Lord suggests it is not good for man to be alone, and woman was made in man’s image. Marriage is considered when “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” – Genesis 2:24.
Evangelical Journalist, Andrew T. Walker, writes in his Time Magazine piece An Evangelical Defense on Traditional Marriage:
“If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that the family is building block of society. When we distances ourselves from this truth, we change society—and not for the better.”
Certain Evangelicals will embrace couples of the same gender being married, while others find this too liberally-minded. There are Evangelical organizations that are known for being more progressive regarding marriage, divorce, and social issues:
- Fuller Seminary
- The Vineyard
- World Vision
- “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
- Growing Share of Evangelicals Support Same-Sex Marriage – Factsandtrends.net; Published May 8th, 2018.
#6 Can Evangelicals Pastor a Church?
Yes, pastors exist in the Evangelical denomination and can lead a Church in religious ceremony.
And even those that refer to Evangelical mega-pastors!
· “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” – Jeremiah 3:15.
- Evangelical Mega-Pastor Excommunicated Himself; Published by Axios on November 3rd, 2019.
#7 Can Evangelicals Open a Church?
Yes, most any individual can open a church and spread the word of God in his or her own gospel.
In recent years, even women, homosexuals, and transexual members of the Evangelical church have been seen as ministry leaders in this liberally-minded denomination.
President Trump, who has commonly been linked with connections and support from the Evangelical Church, says that he ‘demands for churches to be re-opened.’
- The World Council of Churches – On Evangelical Churches: Within the main Protestant churches (Reformed, Methodist, etc.), especially in the Anglophone world, oppositions and divisions began to crystallize around categories such as “liberal”, “conservative”, “evangelical” and “fundamentalist” in the first decades of the 20th century.
The liberals were open to modernity and promoted the social gospel. The evangelicals resisted the liberal secularizing of Christ, defended the inerrancy of the Bible, and increasingly sought shelter in the fortress of fundamentalism.
- What Does It Take to Start a Church From Scratch? Stewardship; Published March 27th, 2019.
#8 Can Evangelical Priests Marry?
Clerical marriage is not embraced in all Christian denominations, with Catholics strictly frowning upon the issue. However, Evangelicals are known for being a free-thinking denomination that takes more weight in the nature of God than scriptural-literalness.
Not taking each word to heart, Evangelicals read between the lines to decipher meanings from scripture that many not be so black and white. As the world becomes more filled with gray/in-between subjects that cannot be so easily categorized as ‘good or bad,’ Evangelicals leave room for topics to be debated and disagreed upon.
Due to their open-minded approach, you will see certain Evangelical churches, denominations, and associations embracing things like Priests getting married, same-sex marriage, or other progressive social issues that they feel should be left to the judgement of God, not man.
- “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” – 1 Timothy 5:17.
- “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” – Ephesians 4:11-13.
- TIME Magazine – Nashville Evangelical Church Comes Out for Marriage Equality; Published January 29th, 2015.
#9 Can Evangelicals Divorce?
Yes, Evangelicals can divorce, but as with all Christian denominations, it is not seen as a favorable outcome.
Sensitivities to divorce have lessened in recent centuries, but it is still seen as a commitment for life that should be honored ‘til death do you part.’
Despite this mentality, Evangelicals are getting divorced more frequently than ever before. Baylor.edu also finds that “Despite their strong pro-family values, evangelical Christians have higher than average divorce rates— In fact, being more likely to be divorced than Americans who claim no religion.”
- “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” – Luke 16:18.
- “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.” – 1 Corinthians 7:15.
- Pastors Who Accept Physical and Emotional Abuse as Grounds for Divorce; March 3rd, 2020. “In 2015, nearly 3 in 4 Protestant pastors surveyed by LifeWay Research reported they did not view divorce for physical abuse as a sin, according to this study. Pastors who’ve opposed divorce for anything other than adultery, are changing their minds, for example Calvinist theologian Wayne Grudem (below) shocked the conservative Christian world by changing his mind and accepting physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse as grounds for divorce in November 2019.”
#10 Can an Evangelical Marry a Catholic?
Yes, an Evangelical disciple could marry a Catholic, but it may not be a popular decision to either group. Interfaith and Interchurch marriages are not recommended on either the Evangelical or Catholic side and were forbidden for Catholics until only recently.
Catholics would call this a ‘Mixed Marriage,’ it is common for either of these parties to marry outside of their religion. Although it is common for either of these parties to marry outside of their faith, it has been known to lead to fundamental differences of core values and difficulties that lead to spiritual disagreements.
For this reason, it is recommended that people marry within their religion to prevent arguing about the core foundations that a couple builds their life on; (such as if the children will attend Sunday school, how holidays will be spent, beliefs on social issues, etc.)
Everyone in these denominations is free to marry who they wish, and being that they are each Christian-based in their roots, this would be seen as an acceptable pairing.
To support the union within these two churches, in 2015, they signed a statement titled The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage.
- “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband.” – 1 Corinthians 7:10
- Can a Catholic Marry a Non-Catholic? Published May 4th, 2020.
If you are interested in learning about other Religions in the world, then check out this book on World’s Religions on Amazon.