In a context of continuing nationalist conflict in a post-Good Friday Agreement (GFA) era, a challenge for Ulster evangelicals is how can they live up to their calling to be ‘Bible people’ and ‘Gospel people’. This will entail achieving a healthy balance of ‘distance’ and ‘belonging’ at three levels—political, theological, and relational. At each level, a stark dichotomy is evident between ‘closed’ and ‘open’ evangelicalism. The main reason for this is that closed evangelicalism has substituted nationalism as its core belief system and used religion to reinforce and justify nationalist objectives. However, while traditional ‘closed’ evangelical ideology historically has been the glue holding unionism together, the emerging presence from ‘within the camp’ of open evangelicalism may be the source of one of its most profound critiques.
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