Friday, April 4, 2014

After WorldVisions debacle, young Evangelicals seek a new way

For many of us, the World Visions USA debacle  ("married gay couples are ok to employ…. wait, no they aren't") was just one more example of the Evangelical right wing throwing its collective weight around over The Gayz.  Too bad, but we've moved on.

But it turns out that many Evangelicals themselves were deeply injured by this.  Especially the spectacle of people withdrawing support from "their children" (World Vision does sponsorship of foreign kids) over the hiring practices of the US affiliate.  It exposed something about the knee-jerk response of the Evangelical movement that dismays these younger Christians.

And many are seeing that it is time to move on to something new.

Zack Hunt: 
The zeal with which so many Christians abandoned their sponsored children in the name of theological purity wasn't just embarrassing; it was repugnant and exposed the hate of so many that for so long has been hidden under the guise of "a difference of opinion."... 
Broadly speaking, the problem with evangelicalism is that it has become a culture unto itself with central values and concerns that are not actually central to the gospel, despite claims to the contrary. These central commitments are not to the way of Jesus, but to a fetishized list of beliefs. 
But this is not a call for simple rebranding. 
The church needs real change.…. 
We have become a people paralyzed by the fear of impurity, of having sinners in our midst or being seen in their company. And so we've become like the Pharisees, old wineskins rigid and inflexible, unable to accommodate the moving of the Spirit. 
What we need is resurrection. We need to have our eyes opened to the radically changing world around us, so that we can start to see where and how people are hurting and begin to speak to their needs.

Rachel Held Evans uses the same imagery
[R]ather than wearing out my voice in calling for an end to evangelicalism’s culture wars, I think it’s time to focus on finding and creating church among its many refugees—women called to ministry, our LGBTQ brother and sisters, science-lovers, doubters, dreamers, misfits, abuse survivors, those who refuse to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith or their compassion and their religion, those who have, for whatever reason, been “farewelled.”  
Instead of fighting for a seat at the evangelical table, I want to prepare tables in the wilderness, where everyone is welcome and where we can go on discussing (and debating!) the Bible, science, sexuality, gender, racial reconciliation, justice, church, and faith, but without labels, without wars.
Evangelicalism has been and always will be home. I suspect a part of me will always miss it.  
But there’s something strangely liberating about standing in the middle of this scorched earth terrain with the resolution to stop fighting, the resolution to give up. I am reminded of the one thing all we Christians have in common, whether we’re Evangelical, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox, Seventh-Day Adventist, Anabaptist, Quaker, or something in between: We are Resurrection people. 
 I view this as a tremendously positive step.  Yes, the rump they leave behind will continue to snarl--just as the (largely overlapping) rump of anti-gay people continues to snarl.  But these young Evangelicals may recreate and reclaim their type of Christianity from the Christianists to be truly Christian, which would be a wonderful thing.

Do go read the full articles at the links.

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