Friday, October 28, 2005

TO BE EVANGELICAL

NOT THAT KIND OF EVANGELICAL. After the 2004 Presidential campaign, I was certain I could never call myself an evangelical again. Indeed, I do not identify with "big-E" Evangelicals who have allowed the interests of the Republican Party and thoroughly secular right-wing ideology masquerading in religious clothing to co-opt the evangelical witness. In case you are reading this and you see no distinction between being an evangelical and being a conservative partisan American voter, I'm afraid you just don't get it at this time.

ON SECOND THOUGHT. Only recently, reading Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy, does it seem remotely possible for me to begin to think of myself as an evangelical. McLaren's book is a study in the paradox of "both/and," not "either/or" when it comes to many of the polarizing labels we endure. I am one who considers himself both conservative and liberal (or, as I would rather put it, progressive). The following perspective offered up by McLaren is heartening to me:

EMOTION AND MOTION. “From crossing oceans as missionaries to crossing town to volunteer in a skid-row mission to crossing the street to serve humbly and faithfully in a local church, evangelicals have a passion that drives them to action; their emotion puts them in motion. And this emotion goes right to the heart of what it means to follow Jesus: loving God and loving others. I know that ‘Evangelicals’ have lately become more judgmental, more isolated, more critical, and more controlling…but that shift is a betrayal of evangelical faith, not a consequence of it. When evangelicals are being true to their identity, they do whatever it takes to express their love for God and God’s love for their neighbors—however unconventional and innovative their methods might be.”

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