Paul said, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (1 Cor. 5:12) This is where my mind went when I watched An (Un)Civil War: The Evangelical Divide posted online recently by CBS News. In the next moment, I was asking question Joshua asked the commander of the army of the Lord: “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13)
If you know the Lord’s answer to Joshua’s question, think about it for a moment. The subject here is the modern form of evangelicalism that is highlighted in the CBS piece linked above: hyper patriotic, nationalistic and political. I will come back to the Lord’s response to Joshua before I conclude. (You can read the passage now if you are too curious to wait.)
I hardly watch the news anymore, and CBS is certainly not my “go to” news source. I don’t have one. The portions of the CBS piece that are ringing in my head are the clips of the evangelical leaders preaching and explaining themselves in their own words.
I do understand that these clips are selected and don’t represent all that these leaders stand for or all that they might say. What they reveal, though, is enough to move me to write.
The clips show various preachers unapologetically “speaking the truth” from the pulpit, which the commentator calls “sermonizing a brand of social conservatism defined by conspiracy and apocalyptic rhetoric”. The words of the commentator are not what catch my attention, but they should be noted for the way they are perceived.
The piece focuses on what is described as a “power struggle” in evangelical circles. That is how the world sees the difference in opinions by evangelicals: a power struggle inside Christianity “at war within itself”.
One firebrand pastor (Greg Locke) touts the amount of support for his position, seeming to affirm the perception that it’s all about power and influence. In the world of politics, the number of evangelical constituents (over 1 in 4 Americans) is a matter of power and influence to political pundits. Locke’s comment and the concern expressed in the media piece align on that basis.
(I question whether 1 in 4 Americans are really evangelicals in the way I and most people of genuine faith define evangelicals. The statistic is a political one, not a religious one, but that is a topic for another day.)
One pastor is heard saying, “But we shouldn’t talk politics in religion. Says who? Satan?! That’s the only way they control us!”, he says. “To get us to be silent.”
Indeed, power, influence, and control are at the center of this phenomenon. At the same time, Locke claims that the Bible is the issue, “Here is what the Bible says. Boom! We’re going to go with it!”
Locke views himself as fighting for the Bible, fighting for ‘God and country”, trying to wrestle the United States out of the grip of the left and Satan. But, is that really what is going on? What about the Bible?
Are they actually preaching what the Bible says?
There is so much to be said here, but I want to focus on just three things: 1) what the Bible says; 2) what the message of the Gospel is; and 3) whose side God is on in this struggle.Continue reading “What Does the Church Have to Do with Judging Outsiders? Politics, the Gospel and Whose Side Is God On?”