| Clarifying the 'Evangelical' label?|
I have had a chance to really absorb this article, but it has some points in it that I believe the devil is using to divide the Christians. Of course part of the division is that some are just carnal Christians, only on the surface and not in the heart.
Clarifying the 'Evangelical' label?
A new document purports to "set the record straight" about what it means to be an evangelical Christian.
Drafters of "An Evangelical Manifesto" say they are trying to clear up the "confusion" and "consternation" that surrounds the term "Evangelical" in the U.S. The document was unveiled today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, by a collection of theologians and religious leaders, including Dr. Os Guinness, Christianity Today editor-in-chief David Neff, and public relations expert Larry Ross.
Ross noted the drafters are troubled that in recent years the term "Evangelical" has often been used politically, culturally, and socially, and has even become a marketing demographic.
Dr. Guinness, primary drafter of the document, said the genesis of the project began three years ago when in the course of a week he met a dozen evangelicals who spoke of how they were either "embarrassed," "ashamed," or "openly revolted" by the images of evangelicalism. Guinness says it was then he too recognized the "cultural and political baggage" surrounding evangelicals.
"When you have best-selling authors who appear on public television with 'feel-good' gospels who have to apologize to their own churches that they've diluted the faith when they get home, something is profoundly wrong," Guinness stated.
"When you have evangelical leaders who make predictions in the name of God, which by biblical standards are openly false prophecy, something is badly wrong. When scholars and writers can look at the evangelical political movement and describe them as theocrats -- or worse, as fascists -- something is badly wrong."
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The writers of the Manifesto are repudiating what they call "the two extremes that define the present culture war in the U.S." They are denouncing evangelicals on both the "religious right" and the "religious left" who they believe have "politicized faith" and in effect become "useful idiots" for one political party or another. Christianity Today's Neff, another of the drafters, told reporters that by merely focusing on evangelicals who advocate for traditional marriage and against abortion, they are distorting who evangelicals really are.
"Sometimes those commitments seem protectionist, as in so much of the rhetoric of the so-called 'Reclaiming America for Christ,'" said Neff, referring to an organization founded by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries. "But I can tell you that protectionism is not very evangelical," he added.
"But when policy advocacy grows out of a concern for the poor, the hungry, the displaced, the refugee; when it grows out of concerns for the well-being of women and children or the elderly -- then I'd say it probably is an evangelical impulse," said Neff.
Dr. Richard Mouw of Fuller Theological Seminary stressed the need for what he called "a gentle and reverent evangelicalism" that involves a deep commitment to working for the "common good."
"Evangelical Christians have had this pattern of we either give up on the culture or we try to take it over -- and what we want to witness to is an alternative," said Mouw. "And that is, we shouldn't give up on it, we shouldn't try to take it over; but we should do what we can do, short of the appearing of our Lord's return who will have the ultimate victory."
The document -- which calls on Evangelicals to expand their concern "beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage" -- has been endorsed by a broad array of liberal and conservative religious leaders. Charter signatories include social justice activist Jim Wallis and Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, as well as Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries, Ergun Caner of Liberty University, author Max Lucado, and Moody Church pastor Erwin Lutzer.
Other prominent evangelicals, including James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Gary Bauer of American Values, and Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, have not signed on.
Read earlier perspective: Whose 'Evangelical Manifesto'?
An official with Coral Ridge Ministries says while he agrees with much of what was said at the unveiling of "An Evangelical Manifesto," he believes the declaration will also lead to a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion.
Jerry Newcombe is host of the "Coral Ridge Hour," the television ministry of the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. He says he agrees that there is much confusion surrounding the term "evangelical." There is no movement, says Newcombe, by conservative Christians to force their religious beliefs on people through a political party or movement.
"If anybody's thinking that we're trying to re-establish Puritan New England or something where people would be forced into making a profession of faith ... or [would] be persecuted for their religious views, that is incorrect," he states.
The Manifesto accuses some evangelicals of expressing truth without love, which the writers claim has created a backlash against religion. The Coral Ridge ministry spokesman argues that the anti-evangelical stereotype prevalent in popular media is due largely to those who detest biblical truth.
"I think that sometimes people like [pornographers] Hugh Hefner and ... Larry Flynt ... have declared war on the religious right because they don't want anybody saying what they're doing is wrong," says Newcombe. "This is the reason Jesus Christ was hated. Jesus said, 'Light has come into the world, but men prefer darkness because their deeds were evil.'"
Newcombe believes the media will use the Manifesto to try and show a split among Christians in the United States.
| 2008/5/7 16:35|
| Re: Clarifying the 'Evangelical' label?|
I found the manifesto to be pleasantly polite, and frustratingly equivocal. Yup, it's an evangelical manifesto alright.
| 2008/5/7 18:00||Profile|
| Re: Identity Crisis|
It seems like there has been a "mid-life" identity crisis. That is not necesarily bad. It could inspire those who are troubled by it to ask what really is important - from God's point of view.
However, merely attempting to correct an image is fruitless in my opinion. Maybe it's time for a new identity:
"1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (...)
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."
Gal.5:1, 16-26 (lectionary reading for this Sunday)
| 2008/5/7 19:03||Profile|
merely attempting to correct an image
That's how it came across to me as well. In the branding business this is known as a packaging 'refresh.' The product is not different, but it is repositioned by restating the 'brand promise'.
| 2008/5/7 19:24||Profile|
restating the 'brand promise'.
Imagine Christians in persecuted societies attempting to correct the distorted image that their fellow citizens have of them. How could they achieve their goal without either risking increased persecution, or by compromising their faith?
Of course, that is not a fair comparison. The evangelcial movement is really a blend of sheep and goats, godly and worldy, and its image has been marred largely by ungodliness.
| 2008/5/7 21:37||Profile|
I have my doubts if any of the defining of the word "evangelical" will accomplish anything because if we could define things the same we would not have so much division now.
The evangelical Christan definition in my eyes.
a born again blood washed Christian by the blood of Jesus, that is a witness for him.
He/She gives God the glory and supremacy in everything as He deserves.
An evangelical is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ even in the public square and s therefore salt and light in a corrupt world.
An Evangelical, he/she only worries about being Biblically correct and not politically correct and you can't do both.
A born again blood washed evangelical Christian will realize when he walks with the Lord and helps the world, the world will still hate him/her, because of they can't stand the light. They will not come to the light because their evil deeds will be seen.
What is being defined in this article as the Christian left are what I call hypocrites.
| 2008/5/8 6:36|
I doubt there would be so much confusion as to
"image" if evangelicals were really living by
the gospel of Christ and manifesting the fruit
of being Spirit-filled!!
Martin G. Smith
| 2008/5/8 9:20||Profile|