Recent comments by Dr. Russell Moore on how he wants to distance himself from the term Evangelical has sparked various discussions including one on this week’s edition of The Phil Vischer Podcast about the rise of a new category, Progressive Evangelicals. I was reminded of a very lengthy post we did four years ago when a large controversy was happening over a book written by Rachel Held Evans.
We live in a time when battle lines are being drawn between conservative Christians and progressive Christians. I usually find myself standing somewhere in between, trying to build a bridge between both groups; trying to maintain doctrinal orthodoxy while at the same time recognizing that this ain’t 1949 or 1953 or 1961. It’s 2012 already.The world changed in-between; the world changed last year; the world changed last week.
We need to be mindful of the duality as we interact with the broader culture; as we live between two worlds; as we exist as aliens and strangers, having citizenship in another country; but having to live, eat, breathe, work and play in a world that’s not our permanent home. (See graphic below.)
To that end, we need authors and publishers who will translate our message into the vernacular of the day, or even the hour. We need books and book distribution networks that will illustrate Christian worldview in a way that people can understand.
In the end, the books we create should, at times, make us uncomfortable.
If you’ve ever visited the blog platform Patheos, you’ve also seen that bloggers are divided into two categories, Evangelical and Progressive Christian (as well as Orthodox and Catholic, but strangely, not Mainline Protestant). I’ve always felt that Patheos was ahead of the curve on this one in terms of making the distinction long before some had consciously considered the differences.
Another throwback: As I write this one of the many, many debates concerning Donald Trump’s aspirations to be U.S. President surrounds the idea of having someone elected to the position who is not a career politician, not a Washington Beltway insider. Some feel this makes Trump uniquely qualified.
Four years ago, we did a tongue-in-cheek post about a guy who is visiting a church and notices a board vacancy in the bulletin. He makes an argument for the refreshing perspective of someone who is not a congregation insider:
Dear Nominating Committee;
Visiting your church for the first time last Sunday, I noticed an announcement in the bulletin concerning the need for board members and elders for the 2012-2013 year. I am herewith offering my services.
While I realize that the fact I don’t actually attend your church may seem like a drawback at first, I believe that it actually lends itself to something that would be of great benefit to you right now: A fresh perspective.
Think about it — I don’t know any one of you by name, don’t know the history of the church and have no idea what previous issues you’ve wrestled with as a congregation. Furthermore, because I won’t be there on Sundays, I won’t have the bias of being directly impacted by anything I decide to vote for or against. I offer you pure objectivity.
Plus, as I will only be one of ten people voting on major issues, there’s no way I can do anything drastic single-handedly. But at the discussion phase of each agenda item, I can offer my wisdom and experience based on a lifetime of church attendance in a variety of denominations.
Churches need to periodically have some new voices at the table. I am sure that when your people see a completely unrecognizable name on the ballot, they will agree that introducing new faces at the leadership level can’t hurt.
I promise never to miss a board or committee meeting, even if I’m not always around for anything else.
I hope you will give this as much prayerful consideration as I have.