Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Last year, in the context of loving relationships, we humbly listened and learned at our Theology Conference as we addressed the topic, “The Gospel, Compassion and Justice, and the EFCA.” Since that time, God has continued his good work in and among us in the EFCA, as we seek to love God and love others—specifically in the realm of racial reconciliation.
With the messages of last year’s Theology Conference ringing and resonating in our hearts and minds, and with our hands lovingly embracing others, we continue that theme and those messages in our Preconference. This year’s topic is “Evangel, Evangelical, Evangelicalism, and the EFCA.”
Today the term “evangelical,” which has its roots in the gospel, the evangel, has been questioned. It is not that the gospel itself is being questioned, undermined or denied by evangelicals—the gospel is forever and always of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3)—but the term has been co-opted by others for political or cultural or sociological ends, thus tainting the true meaning of the term.
Grounding this session in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and Jesus’ proclamation of (Mark 1:14-15) and living out the gospel (Mark 10:45; cf. Philippians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 8:9), Mark Noll will give the opening message, “‘Evangelical’ in the Early Twenty-First Century: An Historical and Global Perspective.” He will focus on the following questions:
“What is the biblical, theological and historical meaning and significance of the term and the movement, and what is its global significance?”
Following Noll’s message, Darryl Williamson will address this topic from an African American perspective, “‘Evangelical’ in the Early Twenty-First Century: An African American Perspective.” He will focus on these questions:
“What is problematic with the term, and what cultural baggage has become associated with the term such that it means something different than what the term has meant biblically, theologically, historically, and globally? What role has politics played in this discussion, and what sort of cultural baggage has it produced, and how are we to think about and process this?”
In the third and final session our two speakers will be part of panel to address and respond to the messages, and following this they will respond to questions from others. We will conclude by discussing this issue with one another in small groups.
Our prayerful desire is that we will foster a humble posture (Isaiah 66:2; Romans 12:10; cf. Philippians 2:1-11) of listening and learning (James 1:19-20), and that through these means we will advance our discussion and deepen our relationships (1 Peter 1:22; 4:8; cf. Ephesians 4:20-5:2). The gospel we have heard (Romans 10:14-15; John 1:12-13) and which has transformed and continues to transform us (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:20-21), the gospel we proclaim to others as the “power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16), is the gospel of Jesus Christ that creates one new humanity (Ephesians 2:14-16) which is manifested in and through our lives by the way we live and love God and others (Matthew 22:37-39; Philippians 1:27; Titus 2:10). May it be so, by God’s grace, for God’s glory, for our good, and for the good of others.
Please plan to join us for our EFCA Theology Conference and plan to participate in our important Preconference on the topic of “Evangel, Evangelical, Evangelicalism, and the EFCA,” a follow up to last year’s Theology Conference, in order to listen and learn together.
This year’s Conference theme is “The Doctrine of Creation: Theological Significance and Implications,” held February 6-8, 2019, on the campus of Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL. Please plan to register now. (After January 11, rates increase $30 per person.)