…seems like a good time to visit the issue of Christian voters
and what motivates their vote. Especially since that term doesn’t cover
one body of believers. In fact, this year the “Christian” vote is
The Religious Left is successfully redefining what it
means to be a conservative evangelical by misrepresenting what it means
to be a conservative evangelical.
This is a necessary examination of how public opinion is being re-formed to influence whole blocks of voters.
By convincing America that conservative evangelicals are
concerned only with two issues, stopping abortion and preserving
traditional marriage, these new voices of evangelicalism are
effectively making the case that conservative evangelicals ignore
poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment. The history of evangelicalism
tells a different story.
Evangelicals have set the standard throughout history for social
action which continues into the present through numerous humanitarian
relief organizations. The Association of Evangelical Relief and
Development Organizations claim 64 such organizations as members,
including World Vision, Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse,
and Mercy Ships.
Beyond evangelicals, other Christian denominations and Roman Catholics are also getting accused of being narrow minded voters, but are likewise setting the standard for real civil rights and humanitarian aid across the globe. Caritas International, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, Cor Unum...to name a few.
Back to Paul Edwards’ commentary…
The Religious Left’s appeal for the Religious Right to
“broaden its agenda” to include poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the environment
ignores the fact that conservative evangelicals [and Catholics and
other Christians] have always had a strong commitment to these issues.
So if conservative evangelicals are already leading the efforts to
relieve poverty and disease, what’s behind the call to “broaden the
agenda”? Another agenda altogether.
It’s important to focus on this and define it as strategy.
What’s really happening here is an attempt by the Left
to define evangelicalism down by moving it away from its emphasis on
the power of the gospel to change lives. The church’s ability to affect
social and cultural change, bringing relief to the poor and suffering,
is rooted first and foremost in its commitment to the gospel of Jesus
Christ, and what the gospel says about the condition of man in sin
which results in the symptoms of poverty and disease.
Zero in on the core motive of this strategy.
The Religious Left invalidates the conservative
evangelical commitment to humanitarian relief because we are achieving
our ends in the name of Jesus Christ through the gospel, without the
assistance of government funding. The fundamental tenant of modern
liberalism is that a government program funded by redistributed wealth
is the preferred method of humanitarian relief rather than what the
church is accomplishing by faith through compassionate hearts.
It’s the politics of ‘big government’.
The argument for this reprioritizing is a convincing
one, suggesting the new priorities for evangelicals ought to be
determined by asking, “How would Jesus respond to (fill in your
favorite social cause here)?” The implied answer is that Jesus would be
more concerned about the treatment of the poor (especially illegal
immigrants) and, at best, neutral on the questions of abortion and
homosexual marriage because Jesus never spoke against abortion or
This is a ploy being used on talk radio by listeners who call in
with challenges just like the above. And it’s circulating on the
internet, either by columnists, bloggers or readers who regularly
submit comments arguing for this re-examination of what Jesus would
do….without the willingness to submit to the challenge of following the
argument through to logical conclusions, when challenged.
The new voices of evangelicalism sound eerily similar to
the old voices of the social gospel movement who moved their churches
away from the priority of the gospel in the early 20th Century,
focusing instead on positive thinking and welfare as a solution to
social ills. The result was empty pews and even emptier hearts.
There is socialist thought and ideology behind some of the politics
of this presidential election, disguised as concern for the ‘common
good.’ Dividing Christians is helping advance that ideology and
redefine what the ‘common good’ is, in the process.
Here’s a summary of its real definition, and an explanation of authentic social justice.
And for those who are writing off Mike Huckabee and his supporters, he still has plenty to say.