Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Evangélico" or "Protestante"?

In the midst of discussion on Evangelical unity and inter-denominational cooperation, a false stereotype is often portrayed by some that assumes compromise on essential issues.

My friend, brother in Christ, and missionary colleague in Spain, Enrique Montenegro (missionary from the Church of God in Argentina), has written the following incisive commentary on the use of the terms "Evangélico" and "Protestante" in relation to recent news on the Anglican church and the ordination of homosexual priests. The cultural context in Spain has led to a vigorous debate among some regarding whether it is better, as Bible-preaching Christians, to identify ourselves as Evangelicals or Protestants. I post this article with the hope that it will not only provide insight into the particular missionary context in Spain, but also help to correct some general misconceptions regarding working together with Great Commission Christians. (By the way, I totally agree with what Montenegro says here.)

What follows is my translation of Montenegro’s original text in Spanish…

I have always openly declared myself Evangelical and have rejected the term "Protestant" for the mere fact that, in the first case, I identify with the message, content and commandment of Jesus to "preach the Gospel" (Spanish = Evangelio), and the second term identifies us with one moment in history in the life of one part of the Church. From a contemporary perspective, anchored in the past.

But upon reading this article in "EL PERIODICO" (a leading newspaper in the Cataluña region of Spain) about the acceptance and ordination of homosexual priests and bishops in the Anglican church (see links to the articles below), in this case and only in this case, I must say that I am a protestant. Today, I identify myself as a Protestant because I protest the improper use of the identification of the Anglican church as evangelical. A church that is most assuredly Protestant, and without a shadow of a doubt is not Evangelical (as demonstrated by its sense of ethics and morality, and the content of its message), and even less so in practice.

I protest because the above-mentioned institution, rather than protesting the practice of homosexual behavior, even among its own leaders, not only refuses to condemn it, but also protests against those of us who dare to raise our voice to proclaim that there are news of Salvation for them as well.

I protest against the press, which, whenever they refer to the immoral actions of these churches, that identify themselves as Protestants, throws them in the same sack as us, calling them Evangelicals.

I protest against those brothers and sisters that constantly insist on declaring that our identifying label is "protestant", when our message, identity and content clearly is not so.

I protest against those within the Evangelical people who have a representative voice and something to say in regard to this, but prefer to remain silent and not commit themselves.

I protest those who could and should clearly condemn homosexual practices, but hardly even take sides to make a few ambiguous statements on the subject.

I protest against those who, although they still call themselves Protestants, are not consistent with their own name by raising their voice in protest for these immoral actions.

I protest those who take on an evangelical identity, but do not fulfill the duty of clearly proclaiming the gospel (evangelio) in order to counteract the poison of this type of Protestantism.

Last of all, I ask forgiveness of my brothers and sisters for becoming protestant, even if it was just for a moment. I promise that I will keep on being evangelical, and I will not renounce being consistent with our identity and mission, that is none other than proclaiming the Gospel (Evangelio).

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes."

At least, that’s how I see it. What do you think?




Don said...

Interesting the distinction between protestant and evangelical. We have had similar issues nearly everywhere we have lived. It is interesting that in many cases the actions of some believers or particular churches have made the use of the name evangelical a bad thing. Usually we classify ourselves as Christians or believers. Each country has a unique play on words and labels.

Anonymous said...

I would none of these terms. Both are confusing and distracting from the liberating truth. First of all we belong to Jesus, not to some human organisation or sekt. For the average Spaniard they would care less what we are, but if we use these terms anyhow, they will somehow stop the conversation, because they will have "figured us out". So rather then using these complicated terms, I just try to explain who I am in Jesus. If they want to label me, they will do it themselves after getting to know me first.

B.T.W. This comment box just doesn't work in my favourite browser FF You as a user of blogger should report them this bug that is discouraging to comment anything on this site. The visual verification nor the audio verification work on that browser.

David Rogers said...


In Spain, most people link the terms "cristiano" and "creyente" to Roman Catholics. I would actually prefer we could just say "cristiano", and not confuse others about what we mean. But, unfortunately, such is the world in which we live. In my opinion, it is not only important what we mean to communicate, but also what others understand by what we communicate.


I have a fair bit of sympathy for the view you are espousing here. In many one-on-one conversations, I would normally try to follow the route you suggest. However, I would also want to avoid, at all costs, misleading people, or giving the impression I was ashamed to identify openly with my "family of faith." In a public forum, such as the press, as Enrique Montenegro points out, though, it is almost impossible to avoid labeling. Such being the case, I would rather they get their labeling halfway correct.

BTW to you, I have disactivated the word verification function for the time being. I will try that out for awhile, and see if I have any problem with spammers or not.

Rex Ray said...

Nice to talk to you again. I respect you in many ways. I put the following on Wade's post, but thought I'd put it here also.

After reading all of Malcolm Yarnell’s debate, I came away with a little different point of view.

I FEEL he went wrong when he described non-Baptist as “unrepentant sinners”, he should have called them as Paul did; “weaker brothers.”

“Weaker brothers” in Paul’s day were those who thought they were the best Christians because they obeyed all the laws of Moses etc.
They invaded ‘Paul’s Gentile churches’ to teach them their man-made doctrine. They were known as the ‘party of the Pharisees’ at the first church counsel.
Their howl was much like ‘if you don’t believe the Bible as we do, you’re a non-bible believer.’ (Does that have a familiar ring today from fundamentalists?)

Paul and Peter tried to change the thinking of these Christian Pharisees, but Paul was informed of loosing the battle: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are ALL zealous for the law.” (Acts 21:20)

The “weaker brothers” started baptizing babies for salvation in 251 AD that caused the minority (Paul’s followers) to withdraw from them. This small group was given the hated name “Anabaptist.” They were never part of the “weaker brothers” who were named Catholic in 313 AD, and that is why Baptists are NOT Protestants today.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother David,

I did miss some classes in Church History, but I do not remember missing the class that taught the Anglican Church was classified as Protestant. I thought the Anglican Church, which by the way is not identified as one church, has for its mother church the Church of England which was started because the Pope would not annul a the marriage of King Charles(?). That certainly would not classify it as coming from the Protestant Reformation.

How does one arrive at the Anglican Church being Protestant?


David Rogers said...


This is not a point of contention for me.

I did, however, find this defintion of Anglican here:

Noun 1. Anglican - a Protestant who is a follower of Anglicanism.

Also, in Spain, which is the context of this post, Anglicans are generally regarded as Protestants.

Don said...

"In my opinion, it is not only important what we mean to communicate, but also what others understand by what we communicate."

ABSOLUTELY!!! We can say what we mean and mean what we say but they hear something different, it doesn't matter.

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