Ok, so the title of this post is deliberately provocative, but it reflects something that I see out there in the world of Evangelicalism.  Something that I've been guilty of, and probably will do in the future, but something that doesn't sit right with me, and something I want to avoid.  I speak as someone who considers himself in this camp, so I'm not lobbing a grenade from afar.

As an aside, for those from America who read this blog, my understanding is that in Australia the title Evangelical is a lot more tightly defined and would include people like Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller, and probably Rick Warren and Bill Hybles at a stretch for some (though probably not the people I'm going to talk about in this post), but definitely not Joyce Myer or Joel Osteen.  In Australia Hillsong are not Evangelical, they are Pentecostal, but the Anglican Diocese of Sydney is Evangelical.

Anyway, I was reading a blog post on a well known Evangelical Australian's blog and in it he was keen to rule out basically anyone who didn't fit his tightly defined categories of theology and church practice, as being not evangelical and by implication, probably not Christian, at least not as Christian as he and his church was.  Now this sounds all too much like the Pharisees to me.  You see, the Pharisees were so keen to keep God's law as it was perfectly written that they interpreted their Bible and set a bunch of laws that must be followed and then proceeded to rule people in and out of God's kingdom by virtue of whether or not they could match their interpretation of the law.  We all no what happens in the end, they ruled out Jesus and killed him.

Now, I don't think Evangelicals (I'd like to think I'm one of them) are in anyway in danger of ruling out Jesus in their theology and in fact I happen to agree with much of it.  The thing is though I see a great danger in the way some of us are heading in ending up like the Pharisees.  We have our interpretation of the Bible figured out and then we rule people in and out of God's kingdom by virtue of their theology and then maybe their church practice (i.e. raising hands, singing passionately, crying in church, having a ministry time, playing music at the same time as someone talks, whatever).  These are the things I would love to see more of in Evangelical churches, so maybe I'm really a closet Charismatic - thankfully I still think they are Christians!  It's ok to disagree on style, but it's dangerous to make it a theological issue.

It's good to argue for more exegetical preaching in churches, less fluff, more talk of God's saving us from hell (Although as I've been having some interesting conversations at college about the different aspects of the Gospel which might need to be emphasised depending on the culture we are faced with). But we must not forget that there are other people who would not identify as Evangelicals, who may have some wonky theology in places, but who love the Lord deeply with all their heart and who love their neighbours as themselves.  Who know and trust in Jesus alone for their salvation.  I'm not sure we should be ruling these people as immature believers or at worst fake Christians simply because they sing different songs to us or have a different way or organising themselves or get preaching that doesn't really cut the mustard (although isn't heretical).  In fact perhaps occasionally they may even have more theological insight than we do?

So I'm not saying it's bad to stand up for the truth.  I'm not saying there isn't wrong theology and right theology. I'm saying there are Christians who are Evangelical and there are Christians who aren't and I don't believe if they major on Jesus and his saving work that we should write them off for secondary things.