by Michael Dowd
Journalists and newscasters sometimes describe me as an 'evangelical minister' or ‘Pentecostal preacher', even though I speak far more often in moderate and liberal churches (and in secular settings) than I do in evangelical and Pentecostal venues. Not surprisingly, both religious liberals and conservatives genuinely ask, "In what sense do you consider yourself a Pentecostal evangelical?"
For thirty years I've proudly called myself a Pentecostal, though my political and theological views are by no means right-wing, and for the past two decades I've tended to say "evolutionary Pentecostal", for clarification. My experience in Pentecostal and evangelical contexts has been positive—indeed, salvific—and continues to nourish my life and work. I was raised Roman Catholic but struggled with sex, drug, and alcohol-related issues in my teens, during the mid 1970s. Soon after my 20th birthday, I had a born again experience and went on to graduate from an Assemblies of God college and a Baptist seminary. I pastored three churches in the 1980s and 90s and have been an itinerant evolutionary evangelist for the past seven years. Speaking in tongues (see below for my naturalized interpretation) has been a vital part of my spiritual practice for decades.
The primary reason I unabashedly call myself an evolutionary Pentecostal, however, is this: The core tenets of the evangelical-Pentecostal tradition accurately reflect the nature of the Universe and the human condition so long as they are REALized—that is, made real. And, yes, as I shall explain below, it is easy for an evolutionary evangelical to translate our basic statements of faith in natural, science-based (demythologized), and profoundly life-giving ways . . .
1. The faithfulness of God and the authority of God's word
2. The necessity of Christ and the centrality of the cross
3. The need for conversion
4. The call to live the gospel in word and deed