A recent poll has shown that Scottish adults are more supportive of an evangelical Christian holding high office than their counterparts in England and Wales. I wonder why. A majority of Brits are supportive of people with a religious faith being allowed to hold top government jobs too, but interestingly they are more likely to support a Muslim than an evangelical Christian occupying high office. As a long-standing member of the Evangelical Alliance I find that quite challenging given the fact that we have been known for so long as a ‘Christian country’.

All of which got me thinking about ‘evangelical’ and what that word means to the majority of people living in Britain today. Sadly, I reckon it’s often wrongly associated with right wing Trumpian-style politics and charismatic tele-evangelists offering amazing miracles and asking for monetary support. That would certainly prove unappealing but fortunately it is a distortion of the truth.

So what is an evangelical? Well, to begin with we want to be ‘known’ as ‘good news’ people because the word ‘evangelical’ comes from a Greek term that is usually translated as ‘gospel’ or ‘good news’. We’re not claiming to be the good news of course, we simply want the world to know that we have the most amazing news to share: Jesus has conquered death and can offer anyone a new start, a purpose in life and the promise of eternal glory. This is why we are so passionate about sharing our faith.

Evangelicals have five distinct characteristics. To begin with we believe the Bible should be central to all we believe and do because we are convinced that it is more than a humanely inspired collection of writings. We believe that it comes from God and shows us the meaning of ‘life, the universe and everything’.

Because of this we are totally committed to following the man known as Jesus of Nazareth. In our humble opinion He was more than a man, He is God’s incarnate Son who became a human being to show us what God is really like and let us know what God wants us to know. That’s why we place so much emphasis on His crucifixion too. We believe that that is where we see the supreme demonstration of God’s love, a love for the unlovely, a love that is willing and able to forgive anyone, anything.

We believe that we need to challenge people to do an about turn and allow these truths to become personal, truths that shape their lives, lives that should overflow with love for others, both in word and deed. That’s why evangelicals are so committed to sharing their faith and doing all they can to make this world a better place to live in.

We are also very committed to Christian unity. As the Evangelical Alliance website rightly says we have ‘a rich history of uniting people’. We are not a denomination we are a ‘dynamic movement’ that takes the Bible seriously and is eager to see God’s will being done on earth. There are times when that will inevitably make us unpopular and even bring us into conflict with those who would prefer THEIR will to be done. Thankfully we can face any opposition and any challenge in the knowledge that in the end His love will reign overall, whatever the pollsters tell us. Put simply we believe history is on our side because God is!