What is an Evangelical?

Three Definitions


One of the words you might hear in Christian circles is the word “evangelical,” which can have a few different meanings depending on how and when you use it. Dr. Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, defines “evangelical” biblically, historically, and theologically. 



Phil defines “evangelical” 3 ways:

  1. Biblically – someone who believes the gospel
  2. Historically – Reformation term for returning to the gospel, used to distinguish from liberal or fundamental Christianity
  3. Theologically – someone who is committed to God’s Word and gospel 

What do you think about Phil’s three definitions of “evangelical?” Which are you the most familiar with? Were any of the definitions new to you? Why?
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Would you describe yourself as an evangelical? Why or why not?
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Does knowing these definitions of “evangelical” shape the way you will use the word in the future? If so, how? How could you explain what “evangelical” means to a friend?
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Being evangelical means you embrace the gospel and the Bible as true. The gospel and Scripture are two of the most precious gifts God gives us. Take the next few minutes to thank God for His saving work through Jesus and the gift of the Bible.  


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