The Great Divorce of the Western Evangelical Church

Pope Francis has come out with an apostolic exhortation that is well worth the read. There is something for everyone to be mad at in this writing, as I have found in the writings of Benedict before him, and John Paul before him. 

Liberals will pick out their favorite whipping posts to pound on conservatives. Conservatives will find their favorite soap boxes and hop up. Then, there will be something going the other way to make liberals mad (or just ignore that section) and for conservatives to scoff and say, “See! He’s just a commie!”

The great hardening of the American conservative church will continue in this time period and the great divorce on how we live will only deepen. Without many white evangelicals realizing it, the rift is widening between words and deeds and while it gets painfully obvious to much of the rest of Christianity in the U.S., it is only making more obvious the blindness of those who continue to walk in willful blindness to try and hold on to old vestiges of power.

One such example is pointed out in this exhortation of the pope. He points out we are separating our ideologies from our practices.

For the conservative evangelical church still bent on maintaining power in culture, the rift is also between what we practice. We choose how to be “pro-life”, for example, and the pope calls it out:

The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.

We have been picking where we are “pro-life” and it is getting painfully obvious this is just not a consistent “pro-life” stance. However, it is still not painfully obvious to those who chose, on either “side”, just what they are doing. Blindness still reigns. Categories are still hardened.

We have been trying to divorce our spirituality from our political activity in American Christianity and in the process (to the “right” and to the “left”) we have lost the ability to be a truly prophetic voice.

Even in Israel’s time under the kings, God had to make that obvious to the “people of God” and they kept refusing to see it. They chased the power of this world… and ultimately lost. What saved Israel was not the majority repenting, but a remnant hearing the voice of God and choosing to repent in prophetic action.

That is the great divorce taking place right now and we are in a kairos window where it is becoming blatantly obvious. There needs to be a calling out of the remnant in this generation. It won’t be the majority. It will be the passionate minority hungry for the reality of the Kingdom and longing to rise above the pathetic Christianity on display right now and raising their voice in prophetic power once again.

Christ calls out to us in this day: “Let those who have ears to hear… listen!

pope francis prayer


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