One of evangelicalism's most popular authors is Max Lucado, a Church of Christ minister based in San Antonio. Lucado's major breakthrough came with his devotional book When God Whispers Your Name. He is a gifted storyteller, especially good at translating biblical stories and images for modern readers seeking inspiration. Lucado's Just Like Jesus promises an exploration of the shape of the Christian life. Like Charles Sheldon's In His Steps, Lucado attempts to offer a Jesus-centered vision of Christian existence, focusing both on imitation of Jesus and also on empowerment to be like Jesus. The individualism and lack of social vision in this work are disturbing. Lucado calls his Christian readers to be forgiving, compassionate, prayerful, disciplined, God-intoxicated, honest, focused, hopeful and persistent individuals. These are great virtues. But there is little or no comment on the life of the church and no social commentary or social ethic whatsoever. Despite the efforts of many Christian leaders in recent decades to broaden the church's moral vision, this individualized approach to the Christian life remains the rule rather than the exception at the grass-roots level, marking a fateful misunderstanding of the life and teachings of Jesus. Susan Hunt
An important part of the evangelical subculture is a small number of pioneering female authors and speakers. Conservative Christianity remains remarkably ambivalent about the role of women. A bitter split exists between egalitarian and traditionalist approaches. The traditionalists claim that God has ordained certain distinctions in the roles of men and women, especially in home and church, and that male leadership is part of God's creational intent. Traditionalists therefore set some limit on the roles that women can occupy in local church life. Egalitarians believe that the Bible, rightly interpreted, does not set any such limits on women's service in church life. While that debate remains stalemated, an interesting development can be identified on the traditionalist side of the divide. Conservative women authors and speakers are beginning to emerge and to attract a substantial following. Susan Hunt's The True Woman is a fascinating contribution to this traditionalist literature.
One of the most hopeful developments within the evangelical subculture over the past decade has been evidence of some movement toward racial reconciliation. The barriers that long have separated these two Christian "worlds" are being broken down. Tony Evans, a black pastor based in Dallas, is one who has crossed over. Evans' What a Way to Live! is his recent effort to offer a full-blown Christian ethic. In this work, Evans offers a fairly rich theology of the Kingdom of God, unlike almost any other popular author in recent conservative evangelical thought. The Kingdom of God is understood in a holistic sense to include personal, family, church and political/community life. Evans has no patience for an overspiritualized or individualistic Christian faith. To this we say "Amen."
The moral vision offered in What a Way to Live! is grounded in heavy scriptural citation leading to direct and often off-the-wall application. Evans embraces a hierarchical, "chain of command" vision of authority. He reads the Scripture to require capital punishment for murder and corporal punishment for other serious crimes. In economics, he views any tax of more than 10 percent as being a "systemic evil." He is opposed to any income tax, inheritance tax, property tax or lottery. He favors the church taking on the responsibility of empowering families coming off of welfare, removing the responsibility from government as soon as possible.
Charles Colson is one of the senior statesmen of the evangelical movement. Imprisoned for crimes committed in the Watergate scandal, Colson has become a fixture at the highest level of the evangelical subculture since his 1973 conversion. In How Now Shall We Live? Colson (along with Nancy Pearcey) articulates a creation-fall-redemption-restoration worldview in an effort to equip Christians for a victorious ideological battle against other secular and spiritual worldviews. Colson is deeply pessimistic about the state of American culture and its "violence, banality, meanness and disintegrating personal behavior." But he argues that the primary worldview undergirding American life -- naturalistic secularism, characterized by individualistic autonomy as its central value -- is collapsing like other major 20th century ideologies. This opens the door to a fresh culturewide reconsideration of the Christian worldview.
Colson and Pearcey want to use this book to instruct Christians on the totality of the Christian worldview in order that they may articulate it with great confidence amidst the ruins of our culture. In that regard, it is a fine effort.