I am an Evangelical
Well, not really. But I was one. I was raised a Methodist, and had a profound conversion experience into a Pentecostal denomination.
Yes, they were evangelical. Evangelicals tend to take the Bible literally and have traditional beliefs about sexuality, marriage, abortion, and politics. I hold none of those views. I’m a liberal of the kind vilified on Fox News. I retain some Christian beliefs, but am a practicing Buddhist.
I have an extensive library on Christianity. Most of the books are about the relatively new thinking about Jesus and the Bible, most of them anathema to an evangelical. I do accept the historical reality of Jesus, but that is about as far as it goes. I tend to view it all from an historical perspective.
Regarding God, nobody knows for sure. Most every culture deals with God in some fashion, but my view is he was extrapolated from the spirit world, entities who exist, but in my view are no more deities than we are. Like us they would like to be gods, but only Donald Trump has made it.
I am from a milieu steeped in the old time religion. It is ironic that the concept of original sin came from Augustine, a Catholic Scholastic. His idea about the event in the garden leading to human depravity rather than free will leads directly to the idea Jesus assumed our sinful nature to release us from God’s curse. John said God loved us and freed us from sin on the cross, but Augustine said God let Jesus atone for our depravity.
American evangelical Protestantism adopted Augustine. Conservatives: we’re bad. Liberals: we’re good, but need help because the event in the Garden gave us free will. We can choose, a coyote can’t. But, we sometimes make bad choices.
For several reasons, deep down I believe I’m bad. I am engaged in overcoming that belief, with limited and intermittent success. Sometimes I feel good about myself, sometimes I don’t.
I really don’t like Augustine, Calvin, and their wrathful God. My father and grandfather had that Scots Presbyterian Calvinist outlook even though they were not religious. I caught it from them. The underlying attitude was nobody could ever measure up, including me and them. There, ladies, and gentlemen, is a prescription for an unhappy life. My mother was raised Congregationalist, another Calvinist denomination (no longer, however).
Grandfather, Father, and Mother were pretty nice people, which revealed their true natures, but under it all they thought they were lost souls. As our current self-appointed deity would say, “Sad.”. I’m afraid some part of me will always believe I am really a bad dude, which I caught from them.
Our culture remains contaminated with the evangelical attitude. I sit here in the coffee shop next to Denver University, started in 1864 as a Methodist school. The Methodists have never been quite as infected by Calvinism, coming from Anglican roots, but that need for redemption is still there. The idea behind DU was to bring the gospel to the wilderness. That was fine, but there was an underlying belief those naked heathen Indians were beyond redemption. John Evans, the Methodist territorial governor in 1864 and a co-founder of DU, and John Chivington, a Methodist minister and Colonel of the Third Volunteer Cavalry Regiment decided those murdering heathens had to go. Thus, the Sand Creek Massacre.
The streets at DU are Methodist, starting with Wesley, the Anglican who founded Methodism. Looking west from Evans Avenue one sees Mt. Evans, both named after an Indian killer. I live between Evans and Asbury Avenues. Asbury is named for the first Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop in the United States. I don’t seem to be able to get away from it. The current DU students, however, don’t seem to be as infected with that stuff as I am. The architects designing buildings at DU don’t seem to have gotten the message. Even the big athletic field House has a bell tower. The old part of the campus has several spires and bell towers.
The University of Denver has, to its credit, recognized the tragedy of Sand Creek and the role of the Methodist founder of DU in the act of genocide. DU is no longer evangelical, but has the history. I am no longer evangelical, but I carry the history.