What is an evangelical?

At NETS we recognise that there are many different ways in which the term ‘evangelical’ is understood within Namibia, and indeed around the world.  As such, in order to understand what it means for NETS to be the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary it is necessary to understand what we mean by the term ‘evangelical’.

The term ‘evangelical’ derives from the biblical greek word ‘euangelion’, which simply means ‘gospel’. Accordingly, in its simplest sense the term ‘evangelical’ refers to something or someone whose essential character is defined by the Christian gospel — the proclamation of the ‘good news’ about Jesus Christ.  But of course, the question then becomes, what does it actually mean for a seminary (such as NETS) to be defined according to the Christian gospel?

The NETS Constitution (Article 4.3.1.1) clearly defines our ‘evangelical theological position‘ as that which is set forth in our Statement of Faith. Accordingly, NETS defines itself as ‘evangelical’ in that –

  • We accept the authority of Holy Scripture as ‘the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct’
  • We believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
  • We affirm the centrality of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as a sacrifice that atones for our sins, and of his bodily resurrection whereby he conquered death and secured eternal life for us.
  • We teach that all must turn to Christ in faith in order to be forgiven their sins, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and become children of God.
  • We find comfort in the fact the Jesus is now reigning at the right hand of God as our Lord and Saviour, and in the sure hope that he will one day return in glory to judge the world in justice, and fulfil God’s good purposes for creation.
  • We rely upon the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, unites us to the Body of Christ, produces in us the fruit of the Spirit, and grants us the power and gifts we need to serve God and build up His people.

It should also be especially noted that Article 7 of the NETS Statement of Faith clearly affirms that we believe the true Christian church to be made up of all people who ‘have believed in Jesus Christ for their salvation’, and have ‘thus been regenerated and united to Christ in His Church’ — the Body of Christ. Accordingly, we do not use the term ‘evangelical’ to define ourselves against any particular church or denomination. On the contrary, we define the term in an inclusive way that deliberately seeks to serve the Christian community in Namibia across denominational lines.

This is why the NETS Policy on Evangelical Theology (Policy R.16-a) specifically states that we as a “unified evangelical seminary must constitutionally make provision for the broadest possible co-operation in Namibia, without jeopardising [our] evangelical stance.” It is also why ever since its founding in 1992 NETS has sought the co-operation of the Lutheran Seminary, and entered into a working relationship with the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN). The Constitution of NETS supports such an inclusive policy, so long as the basis remains broadly defined as “orthodox evangelical” in line with our Statement of Faith.

In accordance with this understanding of the term ‘evangelical,’ NETS seeks to work together with all orthodox Christian churches in Namibia who (a) are committed to proclaiming the gospel to the nations, who (b) aim to build up the Church in Namibia, and who (c) are working towards seeing our world transformed by God’s grace, for God’s glory.

Not surprisingly then — just like the Body of Christ — the NETS community is made up of men and women from a wide range of cultures, from a large number of denominations, and from across a broad spectrum of Church traditions and practices.