NPR on Evangelicals
An NPR article by Danielle Kurtzleben covered some of the same issues about evangelicals that I did, such as their overall size (35%) versus Barna’s subset of “true” evangelicals (6%). She also discussed various problems in defining who is an evangelical.
Most of the issues involve matters of doctrine. But normally when you want to identify someone’s religion, doctrine doesn’t come into play. You just ask: “Are you Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.?” Getting into doctrine generally creates more problems than it solves. It smacks of litmus tests, and is often a sign of sectarian conflict.
For example, according to official Church doctrine, based on a (quasi-infallible) papal encyclical and subsequent quasi-infallible popes, use of artificial contraception is a mortal sin. But if you used this doctrine to identify Catholics, you would exclude nearly all of them. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to use doctrines taught by Jesus to define Christians. As documented in Paul Revealed, Paul’s resurrected Christ repeatedly contradicted Jesus, and Christians have invariably chosen Paul over Jesus. Depending on which doctrines you pick, your answer will vary between 0 and 2 billion.
“Evangelicals” are basically the group formerly known as fundamentalists, but with an attitude adjustment, substituting a smiley face for the dour look of older fundies. But while the name changed, the doctrines didn’t, though they are evolving. Barna and other “conservative” evangelicals are once again resisting evolution.