Tuesday, November 30, 2004

AM I AN EVANGELICAL? Today I began to question whether or not I want to be identified as an evangelical. Perhaps the political baggage that now weighs upon the identifier is a marker that eclipses the word's historic theological meaning. I have had a number of people ask me to describe what an evangelical is, or wonder openly if evangelicals are all gay-hating bigots.

TIME TO DISTANCE MYSELF FROM EVANGELICALS? Maybe it is time to distinguish myself from the "evangelical" label. "Evangelical" may describe my experience of personal faith encounter and commitment to follow Jesus Christ in exclusive discipleship, but "evangelical" does not describe where that faith takes me in terms of social responsibility and incarnational witness if by "evangelical" you mean identification with a politically homogenous bloc noted for single-issue voting and blurring the separation of church and state. Is anybody else feeling this tension?

2 comments:

  1. Yes, I feel the tension. In Oklahoma (where I live) and in Texas where most of the college students i teach come from, the blind allegiance to "Bush" and the the "Republican" "Conservative" "Christian" "Evangelical" agenda is downright scary.

    I had a student who fasted for four days before the election so, as she said, "my man" can win the election. She told me she had fasted for Bush in 2000. I inquired of her how many times she's fasted for the poor in the past decade - she hadn't. I encouraged her to read Isaiah 58 but I doubt she'll get it.

    The sad thing is that where you and I feel the tension, the "evangelicals" your describing don't and only have a blind obedience. I saw a picture once of Christian leaders in a city in Germany marching to a Nazi rally carrying the "banner" of the party, the swastika . . . nearly all Texans and Okies would do that today . . . .

    Very scary. Very tense.

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  2. God help me, I'm going to pilfer an idea from a television show.

    "If 1,000,000 moderate gun-control advocates joined the NRA, and I mean just moderates, the entire outlook and opinions of the NRA would change overnight." Sound good? Maybe not.

    But imagine if moderate or progressive evangelicals would shut up about getting lumped together with conservative evangelicals and just change the culture. The world has enough Christian sub-categories, we don't need one more. It's the old Puritan idea -- remaining a part of something we might not agree with in order to purify it from within.

    Sure, Bush is around for four more years. But all the better reason for evangelicals who don't share his ideals to speak out against him amongst our brothers and sisters, rather than run off and start our little neo-evangleical conclave.

    In other words, let's be the salt and the light within the evangelical culture.

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