I find it depressing, though I suppose inevitable, that Evangelicals are all painted with the same brush. I hope we are not guilty of the same generalized thinking as we engage the culture. Yes, we extend across a wide philosophical spectrum from the Jim Wallises and Tony Campolos to the James Dobsons and Gary Bauers, but where we land on the political landscape should not be how we are judged.
The New Testament makes clear that we should be known for our love for one another. It seems to me that the more political we get, the less loving we appear.
As long as we’re using left and right terminology, do those of you on the left face these same issues within your camp? Do you squabble with each other over tone and direction and ultimate goals? Do you feel demonized and generalized when one or two on your fringe makes some ludicrous pronouncement, and do you wish to separate yourself from them and show the world that while you may hold some opposite views, you are well-intentioned, sane, and thoughtful?
Because of my writing and my belief in Christ and my reverence for Scripture, I have been lumped with extremist fundamentalists of other faiths whose convictions lead them to what they believe is justified violence against their enemies. Nowhere does Jesus advocate that for His people. As I’ve said, we are to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us. We have a message (the definition of Evangelical is truth teller or news spreader), and we’re not so naïve to think it is not offensive or even divisive in a pluralistic society.
Maybe I shouldn’t care what opponents think about us, but I feel compelled to say, judge us by those who most closely follow the teachings of Jesus to feed the poor, clothe the naked, rescue the dying. We may be pro-life and express it in ways that make it appear we don’t care about women and their freedom and their bodies (though we believe we are standing for the very right to life of unborn women too). We may believe Jesus said He was the only way to God and — most regrettably — express this is ways that seem condescending or triumphal, when we should simply be presenting something about which we think others should come to their own conclusions.
So, disagree, scoff, reject if you must, but don’t assume all Evangelicals closed-minded and spiteful. I’ve often said that if I had a neighbor who truly believed that the only way to heaven was by wearing a purple necklace, I might find this humorous or even repugnant, but I would be offended if he didn’t at least tell me. Not telling me for fear of my negative response would prove he doesn’t really care about me.