What is the difference between the words:      'Evangelical' and 'Evangelistic'?

Why we should not use the word 'evangelical'?



                                       Victor Beshir

The word ‘evangelical’ is an adjective taken from the original Greek word 'evangelio,' which means 'gospel'.  Therefore, it should describe every activity related to the gospel.


This was the general usage of the word ‘evangelical’ until starting of the 'Reformation Protestants.'  In 1720 A.D. the Protestants began what they called 'Evangelical Renewal.'  From that time on, many Protestant churches are known as an Evangelical.  Here are some examples:

1-     Evangelical Church

2-     Evangelical Lutheran Church

3-     Evangelical Presbyterian Church

4-     Evangelical Protestant Church of North America

5-     Evangelical United Brethren Church


(The above information are taken from 'Concise Dictionary of Christianity in America,' By: Editor: Daniel Reid, and published by Inter Varsity Press, Illinois, 1995, pages 121- 124)


Also, In the 'New Webster's Dictionary And Thesaurus of the English Language... with 230,000 Entries and 1,248 pages,’ you find under 'Evangelical' in page 327 the following:


..." or relating to the school of theology within the Protestant Church which teaches that men are saved or justified by faith, denies that good works and sacraments are in themselves efficacious for salvation, avoids ritual, and recognizes no authority in religious matters other than the Bible."


Therefore, although the word 'evangelical' could be used in a general sense to refer to what is related to the gospel, but it is also used to refer to a very specific people who follow specific theology, whom we call in Egypt 'El Engeelein,’ which is translated ‘evangelicals’ and they belong in Egypt to ‘El Kanissa El Engeelia,' which translated to ‘The Evangelical Church.’


Today, the word 'Evangelical' refers to those Protestant Churches that, as it is said in the above definition, denies the sacraments and the good works.  In other words the evangelicals denies some of our Orthodox beliefs.  They denied the ‘Priesthood’ and other sacraments.  They oppose the ‘good work,’ just to mention a few.  This is why we can’t use the word ‘evangelical’ to refer to any activity in our church.


 Moreover, when you listen to Christian radios, you will notice that the broadcasters use the word 'evangelical' to refer to almost all Protestants.  It is used in today’s conversation as a synonym to ‘Protestant.’   


Finally, sometime we use the word ‘evangelical’ in our churches in the general sense.  We should stop this practice.  Using the word ‘evangelical’ in the Orthodox Church will confuse many people because of the theology that word refers to now.


On the other hand, the word ‘evangelistic’ is an adjective ‘relating to, or like the Christian gospel …or relating to preaching the preaching the Christian gospel.’  The word ‘evangelism’ defined as ‘the preaching of the Christian gospel, missionary activity.’  (Both definitions and explanations are taken from:  New Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language, with 230,000 entries and 1,248 pages, Lexicon Publications, Inc. 1993).      


Therefore, it is much better and preferable to use the word ‘evangelistic’ whenever you need to describe anything related to ‘evangelism,’ and avoids using the word ‘evangelical.’ By all means except when you need to refer to the ‘Reformation Protestantism.’