Zakir Naik

The preaching of Zakir Naik: When journalists turn the term 'evangelist' into an insult

The preaching of Zakir Naik: When journalists turn the term 'evangelist' into an insult

Let's walk through this one slowly, since it's a bit complicated. The big question here: Is there such a thing as a Muslim evangelist?

The bottom line: The word "evangelist" has deep roots in Christian tradition -- period. If you dig deep enough into the early church you find the Greek word "euangelion," which means "good news" or the Gospel, and that evolved into the Latin "evangelium."

Click your mouse a few times and you can find the word "evangel," which means, "The Christian Gospel" or "any of the four Gospels of the New Testament." Once again, the Greek and Latin roots are clear. "Evangel" evolved into "evangelist." If you look that up you find a variety of definitions, the most generic of which will be something like, "One who promulgates or promotes something enthusiastically." The main choices will resemble:

* Protestant minister or layperson who serves as an itinerant or special preacher, especially a revivalist.
* A preacher of the Gospel.
* Any of the writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of the four Gospels.
* A person who first brought the gospel to a city or region.

During the evangelical and Pentecostal scandals of the 1980s, centering on the work of TV preachers such as Jim "PTL" Bakker and Jimmy "I have sinned" Swaggart, this term was stretched into "televangelist" -- even though most members of that tribe were not doing evangelism.

This brings us to a recent story in The Los Angeles Times that starts like this:

Authorities are investigating a Mumbai-based televangelist whose radical sermons are believed to have influenced at least one of the men who killed hostages in a Bangladesh cafe this month.

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