Back to Index

RELIGION: "Evangelical"



Episcopalian expert Jon Huyck answers my request for a comment on the word evangelical: "As is frequently the case, religious categories get very complicated very quickly. Fundamentalism and evangelicalism often overlap. However, Fundamentalism usually refers to certain conservative theological positions, such as the inerrancy of the Bible, etc. Evangelicalism suggests a dedication to evangelism, i.e., actively spreading the Christian Faith. There are some evangelicals who are not fundamentalists.

In the Episcopal Church, you have your "High Church" types (also known as Anglo-Catholics), your "Low Church" types (whose services would look much more Presbyterian than Catholic), and even some evangelicals, whose services are neither the staid Low Church nor the smells-and-bells High Church, but rather the happy-clappy, hummin' and strummin' style of worship that is gaining popularity across the country. There are even charismatic Episcopalians who practice speaking in tongues and such. For a truly unique Episcopal service, visit St. Gregory of Nyssa Church in San Francisco whose service is a cross between fourth century, Byzantine worship and Californian, neo-hippie, eclectic. Be ready to dance.

P.S. - When traveling to Germany, one must be careful with the term "Evangelical" as it has a totally different meaning in that country, where it is simply a synonym for "Lutheran."

RH: Obviously Jon has done what I dreamed of doing: visiting church services to get an idea of what William James called the variety of religious experience. Alas, I had to keep my nose to the academic grindstone. As a result, I had not even heard of the nearby San Francisco church Jon names. To make things worse, I was confused about St. Gregory, of whom there are at least five: Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Thaumaturgos, Gregory of Tours, and Pope Gregory-- Saint Gregory the Great, after whom many popes took the name Gregory. As for Gregory of Nyssa (330-395), he was a Father of the Church who fought heresy and promoted the doctrine of the Trinity. He came from Cappadocia in central Turkey, where I have visited the cave temples of early Christians. He became bishop of Nyssa, to which I suspect the Turks gave a different name. I cannot find it. It would be fascinating to study the history of the church Jon mentions, probably established by people for Cappadocia. Presumably it was Orthodox, but unorthodox, but Jon says it is Episcopal, neither high nor low, but way out.

Ronald Hilton - 1/30/03


Webmaster