Miracles IV - Interpreting the Healing Miracles

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 8 November 2006 0 Comments
Please login with your account to read this essay.


In response to your Q&A, The Difference between Fundamentalists

and Evangelicals, I would like to point out that the ELCA (Evangelical

Lutheran Church of America) would be considered more progressive than


The name is the unfortunate result of a merger between the

Lutheran Church of America and the American Lutheran Church many years back.

Some leaders at the time were aware of the draw that "Evangelical" churches

were having and, being aware that evangelism is not traditionally a strong

trait of Lutherans, thought adding evangelical to the name would be a

reminder to Lutherans to be more vocal about their faith.

I have attended both Episcopal and Lutheran churches, and feel

at home in either setting. Although my views are more liberal than either

denomination is ready to embrace, I feel confident that, with time, the

churches will evolve.

Could you please mention that Evangelical is a word meaning 'to

teach Christianity' that has been hijacked by conservative groups? The term

seems out of place in the name of the ELcA denomination, even to Lutherans,

but I think many progressive thinkers would feel comfortable and welcomed



All religious words have many sides to their meaning and

history. In England the evangelical began as the Protestant or Low Church

tradition in the Church of England. In that period of history evangelicals

lived in tension with the Anglo-Catholic or High Church party of that same

church. They also had more subtle variations within each of these 'parties.'

One could be a liberal evangelical or a scholarly evangelical.

Unfortunately, the word today has become identified with an unthinking

neo-fundamentalism. Thank you for reminding us that the word evangelical

was once a much larger word than it is today.

John Shelby Spong




Leave a Reply