Evangelical no more

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has taken away the “evangelical” in the label and replaced it with “gospel.” His preference now is to be labeled a “gospel Christian.”

We’re into labels, but sometimes we don’t get a choice. In our culture, “evangelical” is something that was put into place to separate some conservative theological Christians from “fundamentalists.” Then, it has become a moniker used by media and pollster to try and describe a “voting bloc.”

He pointed to the conflation of “evangelical” with an election-year voting bloc. He noted polls don’t distinguish between churchgoers and those who self-identify as evangelical but who “may well be drunk right now, and haven’t been into a church since someone invited them to a Vacation Bible School sometime back when Seinfeld was in first-run episodes.”

Even for “evangelicals” it has become too broad. We’ve become more “cultural” than “Christian” in many ways.

I think I may join him. This election is drawing out such nastiness, even among people I would consider Christian in some way, I’m done aligning myself as a voting bloc. I don’t hate people for one thing. I don’t blame others (especially the marginalized) for issues I may be facing. I don’t have to have someone to target and intentionally put down to be able to put forward ideas that would make our nation run better.

I will also not be “scared silent” anymore, as Moore puts it. There is too much poison in the atmosphere and it has reached a point of grief for me. It doesn’t mean I’m not “politically active.”

What it will probably mean is I won’t be your token statistic anymore.


Donald, Bernie, and Me

It’s election season and it’s wilder than I’ve ever seen it. We’ve had our wild times in my home state, where we elected Jesse Ventura, affectionately known as “Governor Turnbuckle” by a local radio host during those years. But this year nationally… whew!

There is anger and frustration and it’s spilling over into some wild antics in the primary races.

For me, it’s bittersweet. I’ve always loved talking politics. Even this year, with how upsetting things are with gutter politics at a lower level, I still have an affinity for the discussion. Yet, I am watching an all new low, and probably the ultimate demise of the Republican Party. What rises out of this mess is hard to tell.

The upside for me, though, is listening to people in our church banter about politics. THIS is what I love about our church. THIS is what I dream for in all churches. We have people who support a wide range of candidates. From Kasich or Carson to Clinton to Sanders, we have people talking about what they like and dislike in their positions and policies.

So, I can effectively tell the media and all other political organizations to respectfully… um… well… I won’t write that…

What I’m saying is this: for years pundits and even some organizations have talked about “evangelicals” as one monolithic voting block. I’ve even been treated that way. “Oh, you’re an evangelical, so you must be for _________________.”

In our church, it doesn’t hold true. My belief is that it shouldn’t hold true in ANY church. I think pastors should be able to serve communion to people who vote for “someone else.” Whoever I support politically, it is still my privilege as pastor to give communion to someone following Christ who may vote for someone else. We can disagree at another time. But at the Table, we come together.

I love my church. I love their ability to think and disagree, and still love each other as we wrestle with the issues.

I’m with Russell Moore in this issue of “evangelical” this year. Maybe I’ll take up the tag “gospel Christian” as well. I can’t be labeled. I won’t be labeled. And I won’t ask that of anyone in my church. We can think, we can vote, we can disagree, and in the end, we follow Christ.

Oh, and if Bernie Sanders is really looking for a better way to fund his education plan, tell him to give me a call. His method is deeply flawed. Mine will work. I’ll be waiting by my phone.

Two Americas, One Kingdom

President Barack Obama has won four more years.

As believers, we pray for our leaders. Good, bad, indifferent on this election, our call is clear. We pray for our leaders.

As I listened to commentators (who obviously know so much) they spoke of two Americas that are forming. That is too bad. It may be true, but it is too bad.

Thankfully, as believers, we need to remember that while we may live in “two Americas,” we serve one Kingdom. 

Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, Mormonism, and Religion in General

When it comes to elections, as I stated before, it really should be tough. While one’s religion is not a qualifier, or disqualifier, for president (in legal terms), it is something to consider.

So, we have the question of Romney as a Mormon and should the president be considered “pastor in chief.”

Then, there is the discussion of Paul Ryan’s seemingly close ties with the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Does the philosophy of someone who did not think religion was compatibl with her own political thought have a place in the political theory of someone who is a devout Catholic?

The mix is incredibly interesting. I am not making any case for who is the “better Christian,” or rumors of Obama being a secret Muslim.

It is just interesting how political philosophy and Christianity make strange bedfellows, whether on the political left or the political right.

It just reinforces my thought that a Christian should have a tough time voting in an election, and a Christian should be thinking during an election cycle.