Monday, September 21, 2009

Lutherans and "evangelicals"

What is it with the Lutheran obsession (not all Lutherans, but especially in a certain faction of the LCMS) with the term "evangelical"?

"Evangelical" -- in America, at least -- means a broad, conservative, Bible-believing group of Christians.

It does not mean "Lutheran."

Maybe it did. Maybe 150 years ago. It doesn't now.

Anyone who wants to "reclaim" a word doesn't understand the nature of language. Languages change. And the meaning is what the meaning is in current parlance. Not what you might want it to mean. And changing the way people use words is very, very difficult.

I always use the example of "gay," because it's such an apt example.

"Gay" once meant happy, cheerful, a little flamboyant. (Prior to, maybe, 1950 in most places).

Then there was a maybe 50 year span when it came to mean "homosexual."

Now -- in the mouths of 19 year olds -- it has acquired the additional connotation of dorky, stupid, or dumb.

If you're Lutheran and want to call yourself "evangelical," fine. Same if you're Lutheran and want to call yourself "catholic." It's OK, really. But just explain yourself every time you use the terms, because you're not either, and it just leads to confusion.

1 comment:

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

More words that have "evolved":

in some sectors, Lutheran.