I went to Baptist Bible Camp, donated to missionaries, attended the Catalyst and Exponential evangelical conferences, led worship to Hillsong in the early 2000s, had DC Talk’s, “Jesus Freak” on cassette, and completed a Bible pledge in high school and college that meant I read a chapter every single night, even after coming home from a frat party.

In seminary, I learned the word evangelical was simply taken from the New Testament Greek word for share the gospel. Later I learned that during the Reformation, followers of Martin Luther were called Evangelische, and the word is still used there today to refer to Lutherans, Calvinists, and Protestants regardless of their political affiliation or position on social issues.

Evangelical as a political category is a recent phenomenon, and one I find generally unhelpful, as it has led Christians to be categorized in ways that have little to do with the gospel itself.

Some of my peers in ministry refuse to even say “E”vangelical anymore, opting for the more academic sounding “Ehv”angelical. They want to signal their dismay with cable news evangelicals who back President Donald Trump for the sole sake of political power.

Me, I still say “E”vangelical in much the same way I say JEsus, with the long e. So much of American evangelicalism has shaped me for the better. I went to Baptist Bible Camp and youth group at the evangelical church because I recognized early on how early evangelicals I met in the ’80s and ’90sweren’t wishy-washy. They were proud to be “all-in” for Jesus.

Later, as a sportswriter in Florida, surrounded by the Bible-thumping coaches of the gridiron, I appreciated the commitment and the single-mindedness ...

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