A fundamental change

“Fundamentalism is wondering just how is it that a world-changing message narrowed its scope to the changing of isolated individuals.” –Carl F. H. Henry (“The Fundamentalist Fallout Revisited: From a World-Changing to a World Resistant and Worldly Gospel” Section from Chapter 1 of Consuming Jesus)
That’s what I want to know. I have spent much time thinking and dialoguing with others in order to understand what role politics should play in and throughout the Christian community. It becomes further complicated when I am a citizen with an allegiance that is ultimately to Christ, not my nation. In light of this, I’m trying to understand why it is that evangelicals have achieved the reputation of being those that, as Metzger quotes James Montgomery Boice in Chapter One, “fix their gaze on gaining the kingdom of the world and ‘have made politics and money our weapons of choice for grasping it'” (p. 28).

Metzger quotes Carl F. H. Henry saying, “Whereas once the redemptive gospel was a world-changing message, now it was narrowed to a world-resistant message” (p.26).  So rather than voting and living out of a sense of concern for justice that is truly social, evangelicals are driven by concern for the individual. And this influences our voting patterns.  It is Christian to vote pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and lower taxes. The Religious Right “gives scant attention to issues such as universal health care, concern for the environment, and the rights of minorities” (p. 27).

I am not undermining rightful concern for the human unborn or seeking to legalize same-sex marriage, but I am deeply concerned that evangelicals have an earned a reputation for being concerned about personal and nuclear familial issues at the expense of other social issues. As if they must choose one or the other, and larger social structural issues (such as those mentioned in the Boice quote above) are exempt from their sphere of concern.

Does this bother you?

Considering the fact that issues such as health care, minority rights, and the environment in which we live affects everyone–especially the poor and minorities–how do you think this value structure among evangelicals affects solidarity among all of us–rich, poor, black, white?

Personally, I think it suggests a message that we evangelicals would rather have “success, wonderful marriages and nice children,” (p. 28) as Boice laments. I have heard Christian pastors essentially say that those who are Christians cannot vote in favor of these social issues. Yet when I read the gospels, Jesus’ primary concern was loving his neighbor, helping the poor, and connecting with those that were worlds apart from him ethnically, religiously, and socially. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Jesus seemed to place more emphasis on larger social issues (love of neighbor, including one’s enemy) than on issues pertaining to one’s own nuclear family, affinity group, and class. Why such a disconnect?

I know there are many evangelicals out there who must be able to offer a differing view, considering that I am not the dominant voice. I want to hear your thoughts. Dr. Metzger and civil rights leader Dr. John M. Perkins will be engaging related issues in their upcoming “Drum Majors for Truth, Love and Justice” conference this coming Thursday and Friday, November 20th and 21st. Join them as they encourage and equip church leaders to live out a holistic and redemptive gospel. Visit http://consumingjesus.org/wp-content/drum-majors-event-details.pdf for more details.

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