I’m having a hard time getting rid of something I don’t want anymore. I may need your help. It’s my evangelical awareness. It haunts me like a small cloud that follows me everywhere, or like a straw man who whispers over my shoulder when I’m writing, “Don’t say this.” “Don’t even imply that; they won’t like it.”
I can remember when my spell checker didn’t even know what an evangelical was. That’s because evangelicals were the only ones who cared about what an evangelical was. Now everyone thinks they know what an evangelical is because the modern media has co-opted the term to mean something political.
It used to be an evangelical was a believer in Jesus who believed the Bible was the word of God, and the message it proclaims is all about saving people from their sins, and it is our job to get that message out to the world. Now an evangelical is a “religious” person who is against abortion, the LGBTQ and anyone who will challenge their own rights as a Christian in a court of law.
Evangelicals have become a voting bloc that politicians have to pay attention to because they have been the difference in the last few elections, which obviously feeds their egos and makes them think they are getting what they wanted, when, sadly, what they wanted has nothing to do with the gospel.
So from now on if I put “evangelicals” in quotes, that means I’m quoting what the world means when it uses the word. It’s the straw man.
Not that there aren’t many true believers in the “evangelical” camp, but their voices and concerns have been usurped by imposters who care more about making society bend to their liking and increasing their power to do so than they do about spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ or anything even close to resembling Grace Turned Outward.
To be sure, this is one of the reasons we love the millennials here at the Catch. They are the next wave, and they are already experiencing a spiritual resurgence that has nothing to do with us boomers or what we care about. They don’t give a hoot about the things most “evangelicals” right now seem willing to die for. If they are followers of Jesus, they only care about what the red letters in their Bible apps say. And those letters say nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING, about the big issues claiming all the attention of “evangelicals” today. We need to partner with them by coming alongside and helping them with what they believe God is asking them to do. They will love to hear our stories, but it’s their book that is being written, and that’s the book we need to care about.
A word to the boomers: Come on guys, let’s admit it, we’re all AARP members who need to stop wishing for the old times. They’re gone. We need to wake up; get some millennials in our lives, listen to them, and start caring about the world and the people we are leaving behind, instead of trying to resuscitate the old one. The straw man is just that; he’s made out of straw. I know … let’s have a rave and burn that guy. We’ll call it Burning (Straw) Man, and we’ll hold it on the campus of Wheaton College. (And I actually think they would support that!)
I realize that in publishing this Catch, I am running the risk of losing some of you who are either in, or who sympathize strongly with, the current “evangelical” camp. However, I’m banking on the assumption that if you’ve been around the Catch for a while and you are one of those people I just described, you probably would have left a long time ago, unless you’re not really reading what I’m struggling with here every day.
Or maybe you are caught somewhere between being an evangelical and an “evangelical” but you like being stimulated to think differently. Fantastic. Stick around. We don’t claim to be even close to having all the answers, we just keep trying to find the truth and live it out in the world around us. And we need you to help us do that.
I’m one hundred times more passionate about creating Christians and churches that will be faithful, biblical, countercultural, and spiritually minded in a socialist America, in a Muslim America, in a communist America, than I am in preventing a Muslim America or a communist America. … My main calling is not to help America be anything, but to help the church be the church. – John Piper