Here is a letter passed on to me; I’ll respond next week.
“I have to admit, I’ve been very discouraged in the past few years with the whole polarization of Evangelical Christianity between those of us who want to gently challenge some filters and habits of the mind, and those who want to retreat to fundamentalism. Is it getting worse or was it always this bad and I’ve only lately noticed it?
For example, in the latest issue of CT:
1. Several letters slamming Stan Guthrie for even thinking about ways of integrating some aspects of Evolution with the Christian faith. Unless you hold to a literal seven day creation you’re a heretic!
2. The article by Ted Olsen on p. 20 noting how frequently Conservative Christians conflate Christianity with American patriotism and/or the Republican party. One commentator says Jim Wallis can’t call himself an Evangelical because he’s a “left- leaning socialist” who made a speech on the Democrats’ weekly radio address!
3. The editorial on pp. 22-23 describing the latest from Dobson & company, attacking a member of the NAE for daring to suggest that global warming might actually be a problem. I guess if you’re not making an anti-abortion or anti-gay marriage statement, or if you seem at odds with the Bush administration, you don’t have a right to speak out as a self-identified Evangelical.
I find myself constantly making caveats when I call myself an Evangelical to separate myself from a whole segment of the religious right. I might be an Evangelical in the tradition of John Stott or Mark Noll, but increasingly I feel like they’re in the minority. Maybe I should stop calling myself an Evangelical and just say that I generally have an Evangelical understanding of doctrine, but I don’t subscribe to much of the baggage that comes with the label.
Ok, this one is just a quirk, but it bothered me nonetheless: on the very first page of this CT issue there is an ad for a published edition of the 1599 Geneva Bible. I just got done reading a good, interesting book by Alister McGrath about the King James Bible in which he talks at length about its predecessors, including the Geneva Bible. I thought to myself: “that would be interesting to browse through, from a historical perspective…”
Then I read the quote from D. James Kennedy, a pastor and seminary leader in Florida: “The publication and promulgation of the 1599 Geneva Bible will help restore America’s rich Christian heritage and reclaim the culture for Christ.” What!? A 1599 Bible which, incidentally, comes with a middle-English glossary to help you understand what the heck they were saying, is the answer that will reclaim the culture for Christ??? The implications of that statement are just staggering. Apparently the NIV and The Message are on the wrong path in trying to translate the Bible into everyday language. We need to go back to a way of speaking that is over 400 years old so that we can give it to our youth and the un-churched among us. Then, they can read what the Puritans read and in no time our culture will be reclaimed for Christ. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
I’m so sick of dealing with the mentality of conservative Christians….”