I coined a new term recently that I have been getting some good use from: “Evangelicalist.”
Attaching the “ism” suffix to a term makes it into a movement or system, and adding “ist” denotes a follower or member of said movement or system. The key here is “makes it into” – that is, it changes the referent of the root word. I think this needs to happen to the word “Evangelical.” Here’s why:
Take the word “rational.” To be rational is simply to act according to reason. But if we put “ism” at the end of the word we have Rationalism - a philosophical system that elevates reason above, say, empirical knowledge. A rationalist, therefore, is a follower of Rationalism. The important thing to note here is that one can be rational without being a Rationalist.
Now, being evangelical simply means to believe in the need for personal conversion to Christianity according to the Gospel. (This should not be a useful distinguishing mark amongst Christians, but since it is, there you have it.) So what is Evangelicalism? There are many answers. But it often refers to non-denominational Christians of all stripes, often united by their common culture rather than any particular set of theological beliefs. Hence the great diversity in a movement that somehow still manages to be identifiable.
Unfortunately we do not have an “ist” term for followers of Evangelicalism. We just call them Evangelicals. But this is not fair, for one can be evangelical without being part of Evangelicalism. Hence, Evangelicalist: one who is a follower of Evangelicalism.
I hope the use of this new term will help distinguish evangelicalists from evangelicals who do not wish to identify with Evangelicalism.