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Evangelical Catholicity—or Was That Catholic Evangelicalism?

Michael Byrd shares a very nice quotation from Kevin Vanhoozer:

“Catholicity” signifies the church as the whole people of God, spread out over space, across cultures, and through time. “We believe in one … catholic church.” The evangelical unity of the church is compatible with a catholic diversity. To say that theology must be catholic, then, is to affirm the necessity of involving the whole church in the project of theology. No single denomination “owns” catholicity: catholicity is no more the exclusive domain of the Roman Church than the gospel is the private domain of evangelicals. Catholic and Evangelical belong together. To be precise “catholic” qualifies “evangelical.” The gospel designated a determinate word; catholicity, the scope of its reception. “Evangelical” is the central notion, but “catholic” adds a crucial antireductionist qualifier that prohibits any one reception of the gospel from becoming paramount. (Drama of Doctrine, 27).

To those of you who would embrace both terms: Do you think of yourself as an evangelical catholic or as a catholic evangelical?



  1. Craig says:

    Perhaps both? 🙂


  2. Chris says:

    There is a movement within the Lutheran tradition, most easily seen in the Society of the Holy Trinity, that is often referred to as “evangelical catholic.” Because of what that term has come to signify (within Lutheranism, anyway) – high liturgy, desire for an authoritative magisterium, general conservative approach to hot-button moral issues, and even a concern that the ELCA has declined into heresy – I avoid the language of “evangelical catholic,” though I resonate with many of their principles (though not the way they apply those principles).


  3. Catholic evangelical. It seems to me that evangelical catholic is makes “evangelical” an afterthought. But that’s just me personally; I welcome anyone else’s use of the terms–either way would be acceptable, I think.


  4. If I were to express a preference, it would be to be called a “catholic evangelical Christian.” Christian should be the only noun with both “catholic” (embracing the whole church and the whole world) and “evangelical” (gospel-centered and gospel-rooted) as modifiers. But I wouldn’t go around deliberately using either label because I’d immediately have to define terms.

    I’ll just call myself a Christian and disciple and let others apply other labels–as they will anyway.


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