There was a time, long and merry ago now, when people would be proud to proclaim themselves Evangelical. When the giants of the Evangelical world, US and UK, were people we liked and respected. John Stott; Michael Saward; Drayton Parslow. Some are now waiting for endless glory, while others are no longer as young as they used to be, and are maybe not so active. But we loved them. Still do. Apart from Drayton, obviously. This was religion that was intelligent, rational, compassionate.
In the happy days when I started the Beaker Folk, I realised it was handy, when pilgrims were arriving, to know their declared churchpersonship. Meant I could tweak the contents of the pilgrimage to the people. And so on their booking forms, I'd ask them to indicate where they stood: Catholic, Wet Liberal, Annoyingly Wet Liberal, Evangelical.
But I realised this was a blunt weapon (and not the one I reserved for the really annoyingly Wet Liberals - the ones who only came on silent retreats so nobody could ever get offended by anything anyone said). And so I subdivided the Evangelicals into "Open", "Conservative" and "Scary".
But that's not enough now, is it? Something has changed. The triumphalist certainties of old have been shattered. Maybe it was Mark Driscoll. Maybe it was a response to modern views of sexuality, that seemed so ungracious that some were just embarrassed. Anyway; I've reframed the question completely to accommodate the modern world. Because what is the Church for, if not that?
So the new question and options are:
What sort of Former Evangelical Are You?
d) Thinking Emergent is a bit old hat
e) The Artist Formerly Known as an Evangelical
f) Once and Future Evangelical
g) Like those Irish people who worship round bonfires on the beach
i) Over being an Evangelical
j) Would prefer you didn't mention that whole "Evangelical" thing
k) Greek Orthodox
l) No, I'm still an Evangelical
m) Mark Driscoll
n) Pass the snake, would you?
o) Get over it.
I tell you, it's a fractious, fractional and confusing world out there.
I blame the Evangelicals.