Source Link: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/12/evangelical-retreat 12月號 First Things 雜誌
by Russell D. Moore (president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention)
Not that this changes the way they’re spoken of in public. When Evangelicals adopt, the secularist Left accuses them of “stealing” children for “Evangelism,” though if they didn’t the left would accuse them of caring about “fetuses” without providing them homes.
[I]n talking to Catholic and Orthodox friends, some of them… worry that Evangelical Christians will soon evacuate not the earth but the public square. In an era of tumult over sexual revolution and threats to religious liberty, will social conservatives turn around to find the empty clothes of the Evangelicals all around them and realize they’ve been left behind to face the spirit of the age?
After all, Evangelicals are still pro-life and pro-marriage. But there is reason to wonder where Evangelicalism will go after taking leave of the religious right, whether into suspended political animation or into the sort of political activism that avoids the points of greatest tension with the ambient culture. Some social conservatives have criticized in recent days a large gathering of young Evangelicals for speaking on sex trafficking, global poverty, and orphan care with little mention of abortion, homosexuality, or threats to religious liberty.
Some younger Evangelicals’ flight impulse from issues deemed “political” isn’t a move to the political left as much as a move to the theological right.
[They] want to retain Christianity in its fullest, but they are not sure how, or whether, public engagement fits with the mission of the church, but not because [they’re] theologically liberal.
To understand the Evangelical tension on public engagement, one must understand that Evangelicals are a narrative-driven people.
The Gospel, after all…cannot help but have political consequences… We cannot in our attempt to keep the Gospel from being too big present a Gospel that is too small to, as the Great Commission puts it, teach the nations “whatsoever I have commanded you.”
- The secularization of American culture will ensure that Christianity must either capitulate or engage. The engagement will not be at the level of voters’ guides or consumer boycotts—and thank God. The engagement instead will be first congregational, in shaping the consciences of a people who will witness to, as Evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry put it, the God who judges both men and nations. An Evangelical who is leading more than an online presence but an actual church must equip people to testify to the whole counsel of God about what a person is, what makes for human flourishing, what the goal of sexuality is, and so on.
- Moreover, as genuine Christianity—in all its forms—becomes more freakish to the culture, the less it will be seen as one more constituency for one or the other political party. This is not necessarily because Evangelicalism changes, but because the parties start to see even the mildest Christian the way President Obama’s campaign viewed Jeremiah Wright: as an embarrassment among the “reasonable” people, who give donations and vote. This could give the sort of prophetic distance that enables Christians to speak in the public arena but with a primary focus on the church as the colony of the kingdom of God, not on America as some sort of mythical new Israel with a covenant mandate to bless the nations.
I mean instead that the Roman Catholic Church is unlikely, at least at the magisterial level, to shift with the tides of Western culture as the state gives the sword of Caesar to protect the orthodoxies of the sexual revolution. Rome’s witness to a Christian sexual ethic will keep the question alive, and entrepreneurial Evangelicalism will be unable to bargain away its birthright without being reminded by the Vatican of what we’ve become in the process.
At the same time, Evangelical Christianity can remind Roman Catholicism that natural law is true enough so far as it goes but that the natural law points to a Judgment Seat (Rom. 2:15–16). Catholics will push Evangelicals to see beyond “Christian values” to the natural underpinnings of human life and flourishing, and Evangelicals will push Catholics to see that the universe is shaped around the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10) and that losing our living sense of the ultimate telos leads to an unsustainable teleology.
Evangelicals may go wobbly here and there, but we will still be here, even if our sawdust trail leads again to the prison cell. We might be left behind by Wall Street or Capitol Hill, but we’re looking beyond them to something—Someone—we expect to see exploding forth in the eastern skies, maybe any moment now. You can call that a “Rapture” if you want, but don’t call it a “retreat.”