“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
So spoke Juliet about her beloved Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. So what about the name ‘Evangelical’? Why do we call ourselves East Leake Evangelical Church? After all, this particular word has come in for some harsh treatment of late. Does it conjure up an image of fundamentalist extremism, whatever flavour that extremism may take? It certainly does to some.
Why then do we continue to use the word? What does it mean?
To answer the second point first, the word is derived from two Greek words: ‘eu’ meaning ‘good’, and ‘angelia’ meaning ‘message’. (This is where we get the word ‘angel’, which simply means a messenger.) So the word evangelical means ‘good message’ or more usually, ‘good news’.
Why then continue using it when it has such a ‘bad press’? The reason is simple: The Bible tells us of not just ‘good news’, but the best news that there ever has been. God is holy and pure: We are sinful creatures, and there is no way that God can tolerate sin in his presence. But the good news is that he has spanned the great gulf that separates us from him. He has reached out to rescue us by coming in person – for God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, came into our world to live and die for sinners. This means that our sins can be forgiven, and we can enter God’s presence and be assured we shall spend eternity there. Is that not ‘good news’? Is that not a good reason for continuing to use the much misunderstood word ‘evangelical’?