Sadly the term has been taken over by sociologists and by Christians themselves to denote and identify one particular brand or style of protestant Christianity - and thus the term has entered into our common and colloquial vocabulary in this way. The use of the term in popular speech today seems to imply that Christians who are not modern neo-protestants of a very specified variety are not therefore 'evangelical,' and nothing could be further from the truth. The same is true of the term 'catholic,' which is used in vulgar speech to imply that Christians who are not in communion with the Pope of Rome are not catholic. We, the Eastern Orthodox, and Old Catholics vehemently disagree, as does the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed! We should proudly own the term 'evangelical' and use it as does the New Testament itself, the Church Fathers, and the ancient and medieval Church. For example, medieval and contemporary catholicism emphasise the 'evangelical counsels' of poverty, chastity and obedience, the way or Rule of Life in religious orders based on the example of Our Lord and the Scriptures. The ancients and medievals certainly knew and understood the term evangelical and employed it in its original context - the context of the orthodox Church of the Scriptures, Creeds, Sacraments and Liturgy.
The earliest Lutherans, of course, people of far greater catholic substance than any modern neo-evangelicals today, designated themselves the 'Evangelical Church' in opposition to the Roman Communion. The later term 'Lutheran' was a nickname and an epithet, a term of derision applied to them by their opponents. The Book of Concord and the Augsburg Confession make it clear that the Catholic Church of the West, to which Lutherans claimed they belonged and for which they professed their loyalty and fealty, is by her very nature 'evangelical.' These Evangelicals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with their powerful emphasis on the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, their belief in baptismal regeneration and sacramental grace, and their retention of liturgy and ministerial order, would hardly meet the latter-day definition or standard of what passes for 'evangelical,' and yet it is they who first used the term in its modern application.
We are Evangelical Catholics and we should never hesitate to say so clearly and distinctly.