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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Cizik, Emerging, and Evangelicalism

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I read a blog post tonight in the Washington Post from the Georgetown/ On Faith by Jacques Berlinerblau on "Evangelical America's Future."  I'm actually really interested in the topic of the future of evangelicalism.  Personally, I believe we are going through some major transitions, not only in Evangelicalism, but in Christianity in general.  My friend Doug put me on to Phyllis Tickle's book The Great Emergence this past year, and I really enjoyed her argument [tuncated here] that we're going through a major shift in Christianity out of which will emerge both a changed Christianity and possibly a new breed of Christianity as well.  (As an example, the Prostestant Reformation lead to the birth of Protestantism as well as a forever changed Catholicism - two new things out of one.) I'm interested in who will lead the new evangelicalism, what will happen with the so-called "emerging church" (lots of conversation lately on whether Emergent is dead or alive), how orthodoxy will be restated (it's always restated into new cultural contexts when the culture shifts... and the culture is shifting... truth is still true but may be communicated, understood, or incarnated differently in new and emerging cultural contexts).

Anyway, this article was looking at how Richard Cizik, former head of the National Association of Evangelicals, has been changing his political position (Cizik resigned from the NAE in December after 28 years) from classic conservative and Republican political positions to more liberal positions on a number of issues.  This isn't uncommon these days, what I call the de-Republicanization of evangelicalism.  I have always maintained that being evangelical is neither congruent fully with Republicanism or Democratic platforms.  There are biblical issues on both sides of the spectrum, probably making the more faithful political position of a committed evangelical being somewhere in the independent middle.  In any case, I haven't watched the video of the interview, yet, but I was disappointed in his apparent stance on same-gender civil unions.  Now, to be fair, there are some people I know who are not in favor spiritually or biblically of same-gender sexual union but are ok politically with civil unions, and maybe this is Cizik's position (though I doubt it).  I'm not there, either, and I remain biblically conservative on homosexuality, but I can see their point in a non-Christian liberal democracy.  (I appreciate Stanley Grenz's phrase "Welcoming but not affirming" for the church).   However, I will agree with Cizik that many younger evangelicals (certainly not all, particularly not the young calvinists) tend to be more politically liberal.  This younger evangelical political liberalism tends to be focused around issues of war, poverty, ecology, racial issues, gender equality, nuclear disarmament, etc.  I think it's important to note that there are many younger evangelicals who have a conservative view of marriage as between one man and one woman, are concerned about the protection of the unborn and at the same time are anti-war, concerned about global and local poverty, have a high value for racial reconciliation and gender equality, are eco-concerned, etc.  To continue to act as if there are only two sides for evangelicals to be on politically is to make simplistic political positions that are highly complex.  The two-party system is not only broken from a secular political theory point of view, but is broken from a biblical, evangelical point of view.

Just sayin'.


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