Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christian Science Monitor: A new agenda for US Evangelicals

On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, Evangelical superstar
Rick Warren - author of the runaway bestseller "The Purpose Driven
Life" - hosted an AIDS summit at his California megachurch. The
keynoter? Sen. Barack Obama (D) of Illinois.
It's difficult to decide which is more astounding: a
prominent evangelical pastor leading the fight against AIDS - a disease
some Christian conservatives still tag as God's punishment for
homosexuals - or a celebrated Democrat and possible 2008 presidential
contender taking center stage at Mr. Warren's church. The Warren-Obama
event reflects striking and welcome changes under way among America's
50 million Evangelicals, with potentially dynamic political
consequences. ..."

What may even be more astounding from the ideological point of view is that prior to Obama's speech, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) spoke to the same group echoing similar themes.

What is NOT particularly astounding is that such attitudes exist among those who could be described as "evangelical". Evangelicals have always been in the vanguard of social change. The movement toward ending slavery and the changes in attitudes toward women preaching and teaching in the churches began with Christians who, based on their beliefs and attitudes, would probably be described today as evangelicals. It was their Reformed view of Scripture that led them to believe and act as they did -- and it is such a view of the Word of God that leads people lead Sam Brownback and Barak Obama to unite with Rick Warren and other evangelical Christians in meeting the needs of the the world.

Perhaps the problem in perception is that there are some Christians who confuse political ideology with the call of God, and the various media in this country find it easier to concentrate on the intemperate remarks of a few high-profile leaders. When one looks closer one sees that evangelical Christians are just as likely to be serving with their sleeves rolled up as any other Christians.

Partisan politics is a corrosive influence in this country, and when it invades the Church, it can be quite distracting and even destructive. We need to model our lives on Micah 6:6-8 -- He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

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thechurchgeek said...

I suppose in the classical sense of the word "evangelical" you may be right.

Jim Wallis always laments how the word evangelical has been highjacked from its historical roots in such social engagement.

Denis Hancock said...

One of the points I was trying to emphasize was that the classical evangelicals knew where their calling originated. They were grounded in the Scriptures, and thus they were compelled to "do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God".

The thing the "social gospel" adherents and the stereotypical "evangelicals" have in common is that they follow only part of what the Lord requires.

That is one of the reasons I am so impressed with the Great Ends. They describe a healthy Church. And I wish all aspects of the Great Ends were held in equal honor by our denomination.