Christianity Today stands squarely in the evangelical tradition of the faith. We believe this is worth reaffirming precisely because of the way the word evangelical has become debased in our time.
Evangelicalism has become identified, at least in the media that shape so many Americans' imaginations, with the politics of fear—both Christians' fear of losing crucial cultural battles and secularists' fear of theocracy coming just around the bend.
When the word evangelical becomes associated with one position or party—let alone when it is uttered with a whiff of fear in the air—it falls far short of the glorious hope that makes the Good News good. That hope has nothing to do with the rising or falling of political parties or even nations. Instead it is the announcement of a coming kingdom that will never pass away. And the announcement of that kingdom begins with, "Be not afraid."
To be sure, evangelical Protestants have often gloried in being, as sociologist Christian Smith once put it, "embattled and thriving." The postwar evangelical movement saw itself, not entirely without reason, on the outside looking in at the institutions of global Christianity. Theologian Karl Barth once dismissed a pointed question from this magazine's original editor with a facile joke about "Christianity Today or Christianity Yesterday?" Carl Henry, never one to back down, promptly replied, "Yesterday, today, and forever."
Henry's publication was of little consequence to the great German theologian, but Henry's chutzpah was warranted. Evangelicalism—in the true sense of the word—was never meant to be a marginal movement within the Christian faith. ...1