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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    59 replies to "Evangelicalism in One Simple Chart"

    • Dave Z

      @John: Understanding who they are opens the door to communicate the message. It’s a way of speaking their language.

    • Irene


      you said up in #14,
      –“Whenever you separate and lose unity from another church denomination or tradition based on an adiaphora is when it has been dogmatized to the degree that one loses the evangelical distinction (at least in this particular area).”–

      If this is true, doesn’t this disqualify almost every Protestant denomination, including non-denominationalism, from your definition of evangelical? If you separate over “nonessentials”, you’re not evangelical? OK, then why, now, do all these Protestant churches call their differences “nonessentials” and their basic similarities “essentials”? Did they really split over nonessentials? Then they can’t now use this definition of evangelical to describe themselves. (Or else what used to be an essential is now a nonessential, and that doesn’t sound good at all.)
      Or what am I missing??


      I can tell this business of calling Protestant churches “illegitimate churches” or “ecclesiastical communities” really irks you.
      [btw, this site has also used “Fundies” and “Roman Catholic” despite that not being what those groups call themselves. I’ve tried to make the correction about the RC thing, but have just learned to live with it. Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.]
      I think there’s a difference of def on the term “church”. Maybe you equate church with a gathering of believers? (I’m not trying to put words in your mouth.) The pope has a diffferent def that must include apostolic succession. So when he says you’re not a church, that’s not the same as saying you’re not believers.


      That creed, “in essentials unity…” Couldn’t anybody say that? Of course pretty much anybody would be flexible with what they consider nonessential. I think what really matters is what the essentials actually are, and who says so.
      So is the Nicene Creed really an essential of Evangelicalism?

    • Pete again

      John said: “Maybe you’re right, but maybe you’re not. Do you want the church’s legitimacy to come from “understanding who you are” via use of electric guitars etc? That makes the church’s legitimacy on the same level as listening to AC/DC because they also “understand who they are”. Or does legitimacy come from having a counter-cultural message that they can’t get elsewhere?”

      Oh John, you are so dramatic! Oh the hyperbole! “Oh, they will start to play AC/DC to stay relevant!”

      Settle down! Calm down! That will NEVER happen in church that calls itself Evangelical…they will never jump the shark and go that far.

      Take a chill pill.

      Um…on second thought…never mind what I said John, time to panic:

      (Where do we fit this in CMP’s Circle of Trust diagram?)

    • John

      Pete: I never said the church would play ac dc. I said if the church’s relevance comes from playing music that’s similar to the world, then it’s authority is on the same level as ACDC.

    • mbaker


      You said:

      “The pope has a diffferent def that must include apostolic succession. So when he says you’re not a church, that’s not the same as saying you’re not believers.”

      While I understand your strong belief in the Catholic church as your church, that does not mean others who form a church are not one in Christ’s eyes. It only requires belief in Him, and we are a church, because we are HIS body, of whom the head is HIM and him alone, That is His definition of a church, not an apostle, not even the Pope or any other denomination who declares otherwise.

    • Irene

      My intent is to point out the difference in terms.

    • mbaker


      Please define the difference in “terms, as you put it, as to what I have spelled out, not just your beliefs as a Catholic.

    • Irene


      Sure. When you say the word “church” and the pope says the word “church”, you both may pronounce it the same and spell it the same, but you don’t mean the same thing. You define “church” as any gathering of believers, as you said in your comment just above. The pope defines “church” as, in a nutshell, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. The Apostolic means that the “church” has apostolic succession / valid holy orders /priests descended from the apostles, and therefore valid sacraments. So according to the Catholic def, Protestant “churches” are not true churches. I don’t think you would even want to fit that definition.

      I’m not particularly trying to defend that def now, although I do agree with it. I’m just pointing out that when you’re dealing with terms like church, illegitimate church, and ecclesiastical community, it helps to be specific and know exactly what each other are talking about.

      Just like, is Pluto a planet? Depends on which definition you use. Are Protestant “churches” true churches? Depends on whose definition you use. So the pope is not calling you unbelievers, or saying you have no connection to God, he’s saying you don’t fit the Catholic def of “church”, which is more than a gathering of believers.
      Make sense?

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