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Friday, January 20, 2006

My Evangelical Agenda

I was recently interviewed by phone and found myself answering, “I’m a conservative, evangelical Christian. That’s how I would define myself.” Tragically, these terms that ought to provoke images of the love, compassion, and concern of Jesus Christ in my mind get distorted by my political and social reform convictions. I lose focus sometimes.

My false assumption in labeling myself a conservative, evangelical Christian is that people understand that Jesus’ message is not primarily political in nature, it is personal. Jesus Christ is more interested in changing lives than in changing laws. On Larry King Live this week, Albert Mohler said, “We don’t preach a gospel against homosexuality; we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Of this priority, I need to be reminded.

The Bible calls Christians the ‘salt of the earth’; one of the properties of salt is that it keeps the food from spoiling—it’s a preservative. As evangelicals become involved in shaping laws and preserving morality in society, it is important that we not allow our identity to be defined by the issues but by Christ in us. Just this week, the progressive author Rick Warren said, "I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against." His frustration is a symptom of the church’s neglected priorities.

The accusations that Christians want to ‘turn America into a theocracy’ or ‘Christianize America’ represent the rhetoric of confused individuals and are flat wrong; but the blame falls partly on Christians who have lost sight of souls and salvation in their zeal for being salt. Evangelical Christians are not a political issue committee; they are primarily life redefinition counselors for those without hope.

To be clear, Christians have a responsibility to influence the moral statements that government makes through law—but not by taking it over, restricting freedom, and imposing faith. Instead, the Christian faith requires freedom; and, American freedom requires the virtues espoused by the Christian faith. The best way to impress those virtues into our society is not through the imposition of faith; it is through the evangelical agenda, one changed heart at a time.

Thoughtful Readers Speak:
This is a very good post. Good job!
thank you
Christians are indeed the salt of the earth. Because when you sow the earth with salt, nothing grows.
Actually, that the scientific revolution occurred at all is directly a consequence mainly of Western Christianity.
Actually that's the sort of nonsense that the Christian right likes to say, but indeed, the scientific revolution and the Renaissance came about after the rediscovery of ancient Greek civilization and culture (esp. philosophy), and the expansion of trade with the Middle East (itself in the middle of an Islamic scientific revolution) and the Orient (centuries ahead in their technological development.)
Why do evangelical Christians ever support Bush? His philosophy is so contrary to what Jesus taught, and as far as theocracy what do those Baptist mean by their giant Statue of Liberty holding a cross?
No actually the scientific revolution occurred almost in its entirety in spite of and at odds with the Christian church.
How about sending a copy of this to Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Richard Dobson, and Tony Perkins - 4 people who have hijacked the Evangelical Agenda and turned it into instruments of intolerance and exclusion.
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