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Evangelical Christianity

Definitions of the Christian term "evangelical"

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"Evangelical" was derived from the Greek word "euangelion" which means: "gospel" or "good news."

People in our office once believed that everyone has a favorite meaning for the term "evangelical." We also believed that there were many definitions in use that stressed various features of evangelicalism.

In the fall of 2008, we had a rude awakening. A public opinion poll by Ellison Research showed that 36% of American adults have no idea what the term "evangelical" means. 1,2 This includes:

  • 32% of men;
  • 39% of women;
  • 46% (almost a majority) of those under 35 years-of-age;
  • 27% of those who define themselves as conservative;
  • 45% of self-defined moderates;
  • 34% of self-defined liberals;
  • 38% of Democrats;
  • 37% of independents; and
  • 29% of Republicans.

The poll showed that even 14% of people who call themselves evangelicals don't know how to define the term!

Topics covered in this section concerning the definition of "evangelical:"

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "America‚€™s Definition:  What Is an Evangelical?" Ellison Research, 2008-SEP-03. at:
  2. "America‚€™s Definition:  What Is an Evangelical?: full study" Ellison Research, 2008-SEP-03. at: This is a PDF file.

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Copyright © 2003 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-APR-8
Latest update: 2008-JUN-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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