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The Trump Evangelical 'Divide': What Makes an Evangelical an Evangelical

04-24-2018
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Watch as Regent University's Dr. Corné Bekker talks with CBN News' Mark Martin about the name "evangelical," its history and relevance in today's culture.
 

It's no secret that evangelical Christians are a powerful force in politics and were instrumental in electing Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016. Evangelicals are still in the headlines with their access and influence at the White House.

They are even the topic of news programs with the major media outlets pointing to a "divide" between them.

Are they divided? Has the word "evangelical" become just a term describing a block of influential voters? Experts say it may be known best for that in today's culture but its roots aren't in politics.

So, what exactly is an Evangelical and how are they different from other Christians? It was a term first coined in the 1500's according to Dr. Corne Bekker, Regent University's Dean of the School of Divinity.

He says it was originally used, and still should be used, to label Christians who had four major commitments.

"The first one is the commitment to the idea that every human being must have a conversion experience," he told CBN News in an interview. "The second is to have a high view of Scripture -- that Scripture is not only inerrant, but certainly the infallible Word of God."

"The third commitment, very importantly, is the focus on the centrality of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins," Bekker added. "Lastly...activism that lines up with the social values that we find within scripture."

While Evangelicals have a lot of power in the political sphere, Bekker warns they have spiritually "weakened" over the last 50 years.

"We've seen an extraordinary theological drift. I think it all stems from a lower view of scripture today. The moment you remove the line, the boundaries, in how we describe the very Word of God -- I think that's the moment where we start to slip."

Bekker believes the only way to correct this drift is for evangelicals to go back to their first love - the Word of God.

"I think first and foremost, we need to go back to a high view of Scripture. We need to understand that the word of God will remain forever and is indeed God-breathed," he said.

"Secondly, we need to stay on target with what we preach. Evangelical, from the Greek word "gospel." We really need to have a firm commitment that the only way to change this world is through the proclamation of Jesus Christ."

Recently, the main-stream media also accused President Trump of dividing evangelicals and isolating a large part of his own base.

Bekker disagrees.

"As a matter of fact, I think he's done quite the opposite. I think the current president, especially during the run up to the election, has united a large group of Christians around values that are truly important to them."

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