Power or Persuasion

It was in 1976 when Jimmy Carter was running for president that it was declared to be the Year of the Evangelical.  It was supposed to be a return from the fundamentalist wilderness, brought on by Scopes and the Modernist/Fundamentalist controversy.

Just three years prior, Roe v Wade was decided.  Abortion became legal (the part about trimesters fell to the side).  By 1980 there was a marriage between “Evangelical” and “Republican” that lasts to this day.

Carter was ambiguous on the issue.  Reagan ran with it.  Though in office he did little until the last months of his second term.  He was really about the economy and the national defense.

It takes 2/3 of the congress of the US and 3/4 of the states to pass an amendment to the constitution.    I was in college in the time of that marriage, and it seemed to me then that it would take a long stretch to get any amendment through congress, and certainly one on Abortion.  After all, some states had already legalized Abortion before Roe.

The term “Evangelical” is hardly usable any longer.

To Charismatics it means those bookish Christians with whom they agree about Jesus.

To Liberals  it means those tho are married to the wrong party.  They chose to marry the Democratic party instead.

To Fundamentalists it means wishy-washy on some of the fighting issues.

To those who used the term back in the day, it meant committed to the Gospel, to the Bible and to an educated presentation of “conservative” or “Biblical” theology.

Now in popular media it means, those people who vote for Republicans almost all the time.  Watch how the term is used in an election year.  Now every year is an election year.  Mid term elections start the day after the Inauguration.  Presidential elections start the day after the mid term elections.

Lots of us (I still use the term “evangelical” to describe my theological position) fell in for using the power of the ballot box to fix the country.  Butevangelicals

the marriage to a party or a candidate makes us an apologist for the same.  Reagan was theologically uninterested.  George W Bush waved his faith to gain votes, but could not speak well for what he was for biblically.  (I give him credit for trying to deal with Immigration, cutting across the grain of the crowd.)  Donald Trump is hard to define politically and religiously. I heard my family members say, “we are electing a president not a Sunday School Teacher.”  However, they were not so forgiving of Bill Clinton.

I think we missed the boat.  Power is held in place by persuasion.  We opted for power, and did little to persuade people about the value of life, and the cause for what marriage should be.

Abortions have gone down since the heyday.  I think that the current technology of ultrasounds destroyed the argument that a fetus was only a “blob of flesh.”  The court appointees of Republican presidents have made no difference on this issue.  Persuasion from technology has.

Dear Fellow Evangelicals, lets go back to the ministry of the word, persuasion, engaging people respectfully without name calling and listening to criticisms of our position. Are we single issue? Can we separate being pro-life for the pre-born from pro-life about health care, poverty, racism, the environment, refugees and other issues?  How does being an American fit with being a Christian?

Whomever we support politically, we cannot promise fidelity. Our fidelity has to be the the Lord and his Word.  If we have common cause, so be it. If not, we can not put up with immoral or indecent words and actions because things we like get done.