Friday, February 10, 2006

Hate Policies, Don't Hate People

So I turn the discussion to the socio-policital climate of theology. I've felt it for the last few years, but never stronger than during the 2004 election, but when are evangelicals going to take a stand and refuse to be defined along partisan lines? When will I be able to call myself an evangelical and not have people assume I am also a Republican teetotaler who doesn't watch TV and only listens to Christian music and doesn't know anything about the real world, real people and real needs? I admit that I wrote some things during the time of the election out of pure ignorance, but I guess I was trying to put my finger on something that disturbed me, but my finger just wasn't finding what it was looking for. So what about these associations?

It's especially frustrating since most of the evangelical Christians I know and talk to don't fit into the "evangelical mold." So what is our response? For some it is to no longer associate ourselves with the term 'evangelical.' I think the issue is that we have allowed evangelicalism to be defined by a set of cultural norms, losing the heart of what it stood for in the first place. I guess I have to examine what that heart of the word is (not here) and then decide whether the word evangelical is worth fighting to get back or whether I should follow the crowd of jaded former evangelicals who are fed up with the associations, and just move on. In the meantime, it's not like the Gospel is dependent on whether or not I call myself evangelical, which I do for now.

But I guess I am unwilling to let go of the title solely on the basis of the socio-political associations. If it is something worth fighting for, I will do my work to redeem it (the word evangelical, that is). But I've never been someone who is willing to die on very many hills. I will die on the hill of commitment to Christ. I will preach Him crucified and resurrected and die on that hill. Will I die on the hill of evangelicalism? I used to think this was the only way. The way the evangelicals around me made other Christians seem made me think that there were very few redemptive qualities in the rest of the church. Now I'm not so sure. Sure, I still disagree with a lot of 'liberal' ideas in theology, but I also disagree with a lot of conservative ideas in theology, and I see that theological ideas are not so easily divided into liberal and conservative boxes.

Why? Well, I think it's because the heart of the Gospel espouses liberal and conservative ideas, sometimes in the very same breath. This is what I was getting at in my poem a few months ago. The call to "rightly divide the word of truth" has nothing to do with alienating people. It has nothing to do with polarizing people. Christian theology should not have its mind to determine right answers and turn our backs on and demonize those who don't agree. We continue the discussion. It's hard work, but we address the big questions and we all become better for wrestling with the issues and seeking the truth.

And Christian political action should be in the same spirit. We seek justice. We pursue life. But do we demonize people who disagree with us on these issues? I don't think we can, because no matter how strongly we disagree with a person on some issues, we will certainly agree on other matters. I have never found a person with whom I disagree on every single issue. I think we are called to fight for issues, but not to fight against people. That's when we get to dismissing and demonizing. "Those liberals..." or "those neo-cons..." It's bull. Hate policies, don't hate people. Maybe if Christians do this, I won't be so miserable when all this stuff starts coming up again in 2008. Let me know what you think, especially if you think I'm full of crap right now.

Just after writing this, I found this article, which provides some good clarity about what I'm talking about, and about how similar language has been abused in the past by wolves in sheep's clothing. I have to say that I am truly purple and confused. I am not trying to deceive anyone (consciously, anyway).


At 10:12 AM EST , Blogger MrB said...

Nice to see you around! What's your email?

great to hear you're expecting.

How's hope? ;-)

How's Indy?


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