I recently read that the Obama camp has hired a professor from Wesley Theological Seminary, Dr. Shaun Casey, to be his senior adviser for religious affairs. The evangelical vote has become a major point of interest for Obama as well as McCain. Many people may assume that religious conservatives and evangelicals alike will vote for McCain since both groups tend to associate with the Republican party. However, tension has grown within these assumed associations due to the frustration held toward the Bush administration.
A few months ago James Dobson, a staunch Republican, made it clear that he is troubled by McCain’s candidacy and will not be voting for him in the presidential election (not voting for Obama is a given).
Combine all of these scenarios with the release of An Evangelical Manifesto, a document seeking to give guidelines for evangelical involvement in the public square, and you begin to see the difficulty this presidential election and the current landscape of America is creating. So here’s our question:
What level of involvement should we have in politics as Christians?
I know faith and politics can be a heated topic so while holding fast to your convictions, remember to discuss/debate with respect. I already have a follow-up question for next week that focuses a little more on the issues. Let the games begin.
(HT: Justin Taylor)
An Evangelical Manifesto was released today at the National Press Club. If you are unfamiliar with this document and its purpose then take a moment and check it out. The purpose of the manifesto is “to clarify the confusions that surround the term Evangelical in the United States, and to explain where we stand on issues that cause consternation over Evangelicals in public life.” I believe this could be a very helpful document but I will save my comments for a future post.
Justin Taylor has put together a nice summary of the manifesto. Justin also posted an interview with Os Guiness, who was on the Steering Committee for this document. Dan Wallace had a few words about the manifesto just prior to its release. I’m sure we’ll see many more posts and comments to come in the next few days.
As you get a chance to read it, I would love to hear what you think. I’ll share some more thoughts on this manifesto soon…so stay tuned.
What is an evangelical? Our friends at Merriam-Webster list several meanings for the word evangelical. One definition means “relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels.” They also say that it can mean “emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual.” Even a classic dictionary like Webster understands that evangelical is centered around the gospel, the good news. The gospel is the foundation of what it means to be an evangelical.
Now ask a person on the street what first comes to mind when mentioning the word evangelical. I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t match Webster’s definition. You will likely be given a host of other words that give evangelicals a much less favorable definition. Fundamentalists. Right-wing. Conservative. Judgmental. Ridiculous.
If we were to ask ourselves as Christians who falls under the banner of evangelical, we would have a long list. Fundamentalist. Emergent. Emerging. Traditionalist. Baptist. Methodist. Liberal. Conserative. The list could go on for days. Touchstone magazine posted a forum of six evangelicals discussing the definition of evangelical along with assessing the state of evangelicalism. David Wells, author and professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has questioned whether or not we should continue to retain the term with all of its baggage and stereotypes. Joe Carter commented on the growing trend of people dropping the term evangelical and declared his intentions to be the last evangelical standing if it comes down to it.
So consider this question…
Should we drop or hold onto the term evangelical? Is it worth retaining?
Much more than hearing your answer to this question, I look forward to hearing why you think it is or isn’t worth retaining. I have several things I want to say on this topic but I will save it for the comments section and possibly a future post. Game on.