Several articles in the past week have discussed the current shift among evangelicals to a more well-rounded, thoughtful, and faithful approach to culture and politics. Many of these are retrospectives and assessments occasioned by the passing of our brother in Christ, Jerry Falwell.
Note the article on the “new breed of evangelicals” in the New York Times by Michael Luo and Laurie Goodstein, in which Charles Colson notes (almost approvingly):
“What’s happening today is the evangelical movement is growing up,” he said. “The evangelical political conscience today is much more sophisticated than it was in the early ’80s.”
Also, read The Economist’s short essay on the need for the conservative evangelical witness to reform if it is to maintain its influence in society.
As faithful Christ-followers continue to mature in the ways they engage the culture around them, the world continues to notice, although it still garbles the message. A long report on NPR last Wednesday was misnamed on the web site. The whole transcript appears online, along with a link to the audio version.
In reality, the story was about how young(er) Christians (do Richard Cizik and Joel Hunter get to be called young? What about Ron Sider) apply the Bible to all of life in a much more rigorous way than the previous generation. But the editor (or the reporter) who named the story gave it the title “Evangelical Voters May Be Up for Grabs in ’08”. I guess we wouldn’t expect a secular news organization to understand that the real development is a generation beginning to listen to the whole counsel of God, and letting their faith truly transform their lives.
Joel Hunter is quoted as saying in a sermon
“Let me tell you one of the reasons I’m so keen on taking care of the environment,” he told his 7,700-member church recently. “It’s not just that it’s beautiful, which it is. But it’s the first order we had when we got put into the garden: Cultivate it and keep it.”
To the reporter, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, this is a stunning reversal of what she expected from Bible-believing Christians:
Hunter’s vision of the “correct” evangelical view of the environment seems to come from a different continent — or a different God.
Given that so many moderns think that being a Christian means hating women, hating gays, and going to church, this is a good thing.
It should comfort traditionalists that none of the Christians in the story seemed to be giving up on what they already believed about family issues, they just expanded the domain of which issues they brought a Biblical lens to bear on.
Read the story for yourself. It’s about a lot more than electoral politics, isn’t it.