Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Farewell, Evangelicalism

I've always been happy to call myself an "Evangelical" Christian, because the term is broad enough to include many denominations and a variety of doctrinal viewpoints, yet keeps the evangel, the good news, in the forefront.  Yet in truth the term now conjures nothing more than a set of conservative  political positions. We have come to be more aligned in many minds with politics than with said good news.

Skye Jethani has written a series of 4 open letters in the aftermath of the recent election, and one of then is an open letter to the label "Evangelical". It's worth repeathing in full.
To the label “Evangelical”:
There is so much to admire about you, your history, and the theology you represent. You mean “good news,” and came to identify a movement birthed by a commitment to the gospel, the euangelion, of Jesus Christ. Seventy years ago, those called “evangelicals” rejected the angry, condemning rhetoric of the fundamentalists, and they saw the error of theological liberalism that abandoned orthodoxy. They sought a third way that was culturally engaged and biblically faithful. I love that heritage.
But look at what you have become—little more than a political identity with a pinch of impotent cultural Christianity. You’ve become a category for pollsters rather than pastors, a word of exclusion rather than embrace. Yes, there are still godly, admirable leaders under your banner, but many are fleeing your camp to find a more Christ-honoring tribe. When more people associate you with a politics of hate than a gospel of love something is terribly wrong. I take no joy in saying it, but like Esau you have sold your birthright for a bowl of soup. You have exchanged the eternal riches of Christ to satisfy a carnal appetite for power. 
In the past I willing accepted your name as my own. I even worked for your flagship magazine. More recently I have avoided you because of your political and cultural baggage, but I’ve not objected when others identified me with you because your heritage was worth retaining. That passive acceptance is over now. What was admirable about your name has been buried, crushed under the weight of 60 million votes. I am no less committed to Christ, his gospel, and his church, but I can no longer be called an evangelical. Farewell, evangelicalism. 
With regret,

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