From Jerusalem to Timbuktu: a book review

Christianity began in Jerusalem‚ÄĒthe place where Jesus died and rose again, and where the Spirit descended like a rushing wind on Jesus’ disciples. Through much of Christian history, the center of Christianity was in Europe, but in the past century, the church has spread east and south, across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Today, the geographic center of density for the Christian faith is found in the East African country of Mali, the city of Timbuktu.

4527In From Jerusalem to Timbuktu, Brian Stiller traces the dynamic growth of the Church in the global south, identifying 5 key factors which have shaped the Christian mission (more on this below). Stiller is the global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, the former president of Tyndale University College & Seminary in Toronto, and the founder and editor of Faith Today magazine. He is a Pentecostal evangelical engaged in mission and has an eye on many of the trends he describes here.

So what are the 5 key factors that have ignited church growth in the global south? Stiller’s 5¬† key drivers are: (1) a renewed openness to the Spirit (Pentecostals and Charismatics enjoy the most exponential growth), (2) Bible translations in the language of the people, (3) indigenization of Christian leadership and mission, (4) re-engagement of the Public Square, and (5) a holistic gospel which tackles not only Spiritual issues (getting right with God) but systemic injustice (e.g. global poverty, racism,etc). Stiller introduces these five drivers in Part 1 of his book, explores them in detail in part 2, and the notion of wholeness in mission for part 3 (with an eye toward prayer movements, women in ministry, praise and worship, refugees and migration, and global persecution).

Stiller is well-connected to the worlds of evangelicalism and Pentecostalism with an eye toward their global mission, as both a scholar and practitioner. The trends (or drivers) he identifies have shaped the worldwide evangelical movement and the rapid growth to the south.  Stiller gives a sort of insider perspective on how these drivers have impacted the movement, weaving together statistical data, history, with narrative and personal anecdotes. I found this book well-reasoned, and well-researched, but not a dispassionate account. These are trends that Stiller is excited about, and it is infectious.

Despite the title, there is not much mention of Jerusalem or even Timbuktu. These cities are used symbolically to describe the shift of Christianity’s Center to the south. However, Stiller focuses on what is driving the growth the global church in the Southern hemisphere, not on the movements of the church which took us from the first century in Jerusalem to where we are today. So really the focus is on the last hundred or so years. Most of the trends that Stiller mentions, trace the shift of Christianity from Eurocentric and colonial toward indigenization.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the global church and mission. I give it four stars. -‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

Notice of material connection, I received a copy of this book from InterVarsity Press in exchange for my honest review.

Babylon Bee Yourself: a book review

I am an occasional reader of the Babylon Bee and occasionally share their satirical articles on social media.¬† Or more than occasionally. I’m a Babylon Bee oversharer. I have appreciated their acerbic wit and the way they turned their scathing, tongue-in-cheek critique on the Evangelical industrial-complex. Often the headline does it for me. I don’t always read the articles even when I shared them. Yeah, I’m that guy.

But the Babylon Bee has now moved into new territory, beyond the ethereal internet onto a palpable (and pulpable) printed page, a¬†Babylon Bee book,¬†How to Be A Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living.¬†This is your guidebook for navigating evangelicalism. This includes joining the right church, with just the perfect mix of over-the-top pyrotechnics and punny church signs. It means always giving off the appearance of everything being “fine,”¬†doing life together¬†without letting community get too deep, vulnerable or authentic, serving God without doing much of anything, exploring ways to look spiritual online, inhabiting the Christian subculture and being sufficiently cut off from the wider world, conforming to mainstream Christian beliefs, crusading against the heathens and fighting those cultural wars.

Yes, it lampoons everything that drives you crazy about the Evangelical subculture and all those things that drive people away from the church. OMG, Evangelicals are a bunch of hypocrites. They are shallow, judgy, self-centered, dismissive of outsiders, and live in their own bubbles.¬†Haha. Get it? It’s funny because it’s true.¬†

Adam Ford (creator of the Babylon Bee) and Kyle Mann (current head writer and showrunner for all things Bee) collaborated to bring this book to print. Writing humor is a difficult thing, and the Bee often succeeds admirably. I can’t say I enjoy this print edition all that much. Perhaps it is that for humor to be rip-roaringly funny, there has to be an element of surprise to it. If satirizing the evangelical subculture is amusing on page 3 (why do books always start on page 3?), I¬† found I was barely interested in the topic by page 192.¬† The last 9/10 of this book were a bit of a slog. There was no surprise, the jokes become more and more predictable. If the concept was fresh at the beginning (big if), by the end, Ford and Mann are almost wholly reliant on snark to keep their readership’s interest. So like my online-sharing self, the headlines grab me, but I lose interest in the long haul.

But beyond the humor, I kept asking myself, “what is this book trying to say?” Creator of the Onion (internet satire par excellence), Scott Dikkers writes in¬†How to Write Funny,¬† “Satire has something to say‚ÄĒsomething important‚ÄĒthat‚Äôs hidden in the literal text.” What was the point? Did I feel like I was being challenged to do something different? Is there a prophetic edge to what Mann and Ford are saying? Maybe. My sense is that their lambast of the Christian subculture re-enforces in the reader their own judgment against perceived evangelical shallowness. Moreover, the caricature of the movement is so overdrawn, it would be difficult for any reader to find themselves (we will only see those we already dismiss). There is snark but no prophetic edge. I wish the Babylon Bee was more like Samantha Bee (but with fewer F-bombs).

If you enjoy reading everything from the Bee, you probably will find this book enjoyable too. I was a little underwhelmed but certainly, there is value in being able to laugh at yourself. I give this three stars.¬† ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and have provided you with my honest review.

 

Don of the Planet of the White Evangelicals: a book review

Since November 8, 2016, one question has dominated media¬†ad nauseam:¬†how did this happen? How did Donald J.¬†Trump‚ÄĒa man full of narcissistic¬†bravado, who publicly mocked a disabled reporter, failed to unequivocally denounce white nationalism and the KKK, insulted political opponents and women with unparalleled¬†crassness,¬† bragged about sexual assault, passing it off as locker room talk, and also bragged about his sexual exploits in public forms‚ÄĒbecome president? Why did 81% of evangelicals support him, a higher percentage of support than either George W.¬†Bush or Mitt Romney received? In one night, white evangelicals swung from the demographic most likely to say that personal character matters in assessing a leader’s public ethics, to the group that said it mattered the least.

9780801007330A lot of ink has been spilled, attempting to answer the question of why Donald Trump. Stephen Mansfield tackles this question directly in¬†¬†Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope and Why Christian Conservatives¬†Supported Him.¬†Mansfield is a historian, conservative Christian and cultural critic. He boasts strong evangelical credentials and of all the people who have endeavored to tackle the Trump phenomenon, he may be the whitest (I can’t actually back that up). His previous books include a Christian book about manly men doing manly things,¬†The Mansfield Book of Manly Men¬†(Thomas Nelson, 2013), as well as books about the faiths of presidents and world leaders: The Faith of George W. Bush (Tarcher, 2003), The Faith of Barak Obama (Thomas Nelson, 2008), Lincoln’s Battle with God (Thomas Nelson, 2012), and The Character and Greatness of Winston Churchill (Cumberland House, 2004).

Notably, Mansfield does not attempt to write a book on the faith of Donald Trump, as he did with Bush and Obama.¬† He attempts instead to answer how Donald Trump became evangelicals’ champion, though he does address the the possible¬†religious content of Trump’s faith. He repeatedly points out the incongruities between Trump’s Christian claims and the evidence from Trump’s life and writing:

[F]or at least the first five decades of [his] life, there was little evidence¬† of a defining Christian Faith. Instead, his religion was power, vengeance, and, notably himself. He seemed not to know that the ideal of revenge to which he devoted so much time and an entire chapter of a book was contrary to the teaching of the religion he served. He did not know or did not care that truth mattered in his faith, that his preference for “truthful hyperbole”‚ÄĒan”innocent form of exaggeration . . . and a very effective form of promotion”‚ÄĒwas little more than lying and forbidden by his religion. It was the same with his sexual mores, with his language, and business ethics, and with his lack of evident concern for the will of an all-knowing God. (70).

Mansfield explains the Trump phenomena in the four sections of his book. Part one names the incongruity between evangelicalism and their “unlikely champion.” Part 2, provides the backstory, and the voices that shaped Trump: his emotionally distant and cut-throat real estate¬†tycoon father, military school, the positive thinking gospel of Norman Vincent Peale, and his decade-long friendship with prosperity preacher, Paula White, the pastor that translated Trump’s faith to his would-be evangelical allies.

In part 3, Mansfield describes Trump’s appeal for evangelicals, namely, his commitment to overturning the Johnson Act, his opposition to Obama’s legacy, Hillary Clinton and the way Trump gave voice to their anger. Obama was adept at speaking Christian language, but evangelicals disagreed vehemently with his Pro-Choice platform, the ways in which the Affordable Care Act was biased against pro-life positions and Obama’s evolving stance on Marriage Equality. Clinton, a lifelong Methodist, was also more adept at speaking about faith matters than Trump, but her progressive politics, pro-abortion stances and her failure to even engage with evangelicals during her campaign hurt her standing with them. Mansfield focuses his assessment of Clinton’s lack of appeal among evangelicals on her policy, not on scandals like her private email server or Benghazi.

In part 4, Mansfield makes the case for prophetic distance between evangelicals and their would-be champion. He begins by assessing Billy Graham’s legacy as ‘pastor to the presidency,’ and how Graham came to see how he was used by presidents (he felt particularly seduced by his friendship with Nixon). Mansfield quotes Graham as saying in 1981, “The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it” (137). This strikes me as words his son Franklin ought to heed.

Surveying our cultural landscape, and the story of  Jesus driving the money changers out of the Court of the Gentiles (the part of the temple where the nations came to seek Yahweh), Mansfield observes that Jesus was objecting to a racist policy that hurt the Gentiles. He concludes:

In an America battling new waves of racial tension, what might come from a bold, unapologetic declaration of the meaning of this episdode in the life of Christ‚ÄĒthat racism is sin, that it is un-Christian and that any president who claims to be a follower of Christ must fight this evil with every weapon possible?

That is what is required of ministers who step into the lives of presidents. They are not there merely to affirm. They are not there simply to sanction. They are there to confront and speak truth that brings change. They are there to maintain prophetic distance and to be guardians of a moral vision for life and government. (141).

Mansfield’s concluding chapter gives several examples of Christian leaders who maintained this sort of prophetic distance and were, therefore, able to speak prophetically into the life of leaders.

Mansfield is evenhanded. He gives a strong critique of Trump and Trumpism without demonizing the man or the movement. I don’t know from reading this book how he voted last November. I am sure I wouldn’t always be on the same page as him politically or theologically but I appreciate his conviction, fairness and the thrust of his argument

In the interest of disclosure, I am one of the 19% of white evangelicals who did not vote for Trump. I have a lot of friends who have disavowed the term evangelical in the wake of the last election because they want to dissociate from the evangelical support of a president who winks at injustice, sexism, racial bigotry, and xenophobia. I still call myself an evangelical because I believe in the reality of new birth in Christ, salvation through the cross, a Bible-centered spirituality and a commitment to mission, but I am sensitive to the way evangelicalism and evangelical language has been co-opted.¬† I appreciate Mansfield’s argument for prophetic distance, though as he notes throughout, the evangelical movement, for better or for worse, has hitched their cart to the Trump train. Whether or not prophetic distance is now possible remains to be seen, though certainly there are examples of evangelicals who have dared to speak truth-to-power. I certainly want to see an evangelicalism guided more by conviction than political pragmatism, but it is 2017 and I’m cynical.

Still, if you want a white, evangelical assessment of why Trump and where we go from here, this is a good place to start. I give this four stars. ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ

Notice of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for my honest review

 

Goodnight Shame

Five years ago we sent our daughter to Awana at a nearby church. We like the Bible and we want our kids to learn and love it. We sent her, confident that she would have a good time and hopefully learn a little. In general, this was a positive experience for both her and us. We got to know some of the people at that church, the same church our other daughter went to for preschool (and later Awana) and there was lots of kids crafts and silliness which kept her entertained.

One night after Awana, our daughter was a little wound up. She wasn’t listening at all, running, laughing, singing when we started to go through her bedtime routine. We tried in vain to get her and her siblings to bed. We were exasperated.¬† So, I made my angry dad face and scolded her sternly. I remember a look of shock before she ran off to finally got ready.¬†Parenting win,¬†I thought. When she had her pajamas on, she came up to me, tears in her eyes. She looked up at me and said with a whimper, “Dad, I’m sorry for sinning.”

Excuse me?

It didn’t take me long to connect the dots. She came home from Awana where she had learned that Everyone has sinned. No one has lived up to God’s glory¬†(Romans 3:23 NrIV). They had a short devotional teachings about what kids do that are sinful (like disobeying their parents), so that they’d accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.¬† She probably learned in the same lesson that¬†When you sin, the pay you get is death. (Romans 6:23a NrIV). When her Wednesday night exuberance caused me to react in anger, she felt ashamed. Shame at who she was‚ÄĒa five year old hardened sinner who stayed up way too late and liked to sing. I doubt that this exact message was the one her Awana leaders intended, but it was the one she got.

I have a big problem with that.

I agree with her Awana leaders that sin is a universal problem, one dealt with decisively by Christ on the cross. But for the life of me, I can’t picture God punishing my little girl with eternal conscious torment because she was hyper and distracted at bedtime. The truth is, a lot of kid’s willful disobedience, while exasperating, is pretty adorable. If God enjoys my kids as much as I do (and I know he does),¬† I doubt he would even been angry if he was the one tasked with tucking them in that night. Kids are kids. He probably would laugh the way I laugh before my patience wears thin.

God is our loving Father; yet sometimes our theology paints Him as less loving than we are with our own kids. We take great pains to not shame our kids when they misbehave, but ironically we’ve been taught to shame sinners. A couple of centuries of revivalist spirituality taught us to get people to seek the gospel remedy by getting them to feel sorrow for their sins.¬† How can something be good theology and bad psychology? Shaming sinners gets it wrong.

Certainly I could think of out of bounds behaviors and more serious offenses my kids might do that demands an adequate response. Sin is a real issue in all our lives that we need to confess it and repent of it.¬† But I’ve grown wary of this shaming spirituality we see in Evangelical statements, children’s curriculum, Sunday sermons and worship songs.¬† There has to be a better way.

810_goodnight-moon-print-c100086681

 

Word, Sacrament & Spirit: a book review

Gordon Smith’s¬†Evangelical, Sacramental¬†& Pentecostal¬†begins with a couple of anecdotes. Smith tells about being on a bus heading to a theological conference in Lima, Peru, where¬†he was to speak. He struck up a conversation with Chilean Anglicans and asked them what was distinctive about the Anglican church in their context. They responded,”The Anglican church in Chile is evangelical but not sacramental.” Smith silently mused, “but why do you have to choose.”(1) Later that year he was visiting a Baptist theological college in Romania before heading to a Pentecostal college. His Baptist host made clear the difference, “we are evangelical, they are pentecostal” (1-2).
5160Smith asserts that the Christian faith shouldn’t be forced into false dichotomies which place Word against sacrament¬†or Word against Spirit. The fullness of Christian experience includes all three dimensions‚ÄĒit is evangelical, sacramental AND pentecostal. ¬†Smith helps enlarge our vision and deepen our ecclesial and spiritual lives. If we are to know the grace of God fully, we need Word, sacrament, and Spirit.

Smith begins by exploring how evangelicals, sacramentalists, and pentecostals¬†each have different approaches to Scripture. ¬†In chapter 1, he examines John 15:4, ‚ÄúAbide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.‚ÄĚ Smith points out, evangelicals ¬†understand the abiding life as involving time in the Word‚ÄĒreading, studying, preaching and meditating on it (14), sacramentalists describe how abiding in Christ involves participating in the Eucharist with a community of the baptized (14-18), pentecostals emphasize the connection between God and humanity which comes through the outpouring of the Spirit’s presence (19-20). ¬†Smith observes, “All three, taken together are the means by which the benefits of the cross are known and experienced. The three‚ÄĒthe Spirit, along with Word and sacrament‚ÄĒare then the means by which the intent of the cross is fulfilled in the life of the church, the means by which we abide in Christ, as Christ abides in us” (21).

In chapter two, Smith walks through Luke-Acts, highlighting the immediacy of the Spirit, the devotion to the Word and the sacramental fellowship. Chapter three fleshes out how these three components belong together in a full-orbed Christian spirituality. The remaining three chapters consider in turn the evangelical, sacramental and pentecostal streams. Smith explores the insights, contributions, and practices of each stream and the ways in which they augment and inform one another.

Capital “P” Pentecostals will not be happy with everything Smith says here. He does emphasize dynamic spiritual experience‚ÄĒimmediacy, and intimacy with God(98) and root this in Pentecost (the Spirit sent in Acts 2, and earlier in John 20:22); however, he looks to the insights of the broader Christian tradition and history in expounding on the pneumatological¬†character of the Christian life, citing John of the Cross and Ignatius of Loyola, but no Pentecostals like Charles Parham, William Seymour, and Azuza street, or other contemporary Pentecostal voices. Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement are spoken of by Smith in broad, general terms. What Smith is attempting to do is hold up the charismatic/pentecostal nature of the Christian life, for Christians of all stripes and theological persuasions. Without the giving of the Spirit, there is no conversion, no Word of God, no sacramental efficacy and no intimacy with God. But if you expect to hear a commendation to charismatic revivalism, tongues speaking, and the ongoing place of prophetic utterance, you won’t find it here.

Smith doesn’t just dislike hard theological/denominational categories, he himself defies such categorization. He is ordained in the Christian Missionary Alliance and is president and professor of one of their institutions (Ambrose University, Calgary), but his Ph.D. is from Loyola. He is an Evangelical in the holiness tradition who upholds the sacraments. He is a spiritual director and lover of Jesuit spirituality committed to the evangelical mission, ecumenism, and global theological education for the church. This book draws together the various strands.

I was lucky enough to audit a couple of classes with Smith while I attended Regent College. I took a course on¬†Conversion and Transformation¬†and a class on the sacraments, highlighting, in turn, the evangelical and sacramental streams (though in both instances he expounded the pneumatological character of each). ¬†He has become one of my favorite authors of Christian Spirituality and he never fails to make me see things in new ways. I recommend Evangelical, Sacramental, and Pentecostal for anyone who feels like their faith has become one dimensional and wants to deepen their understanding of the Christian life. ‚ÄĒ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ¬Ĺ.

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from IVP Academic in exchange for my honest review.

Transform Your City by Putting on Christian Conferences: a book review.

Mac Pier is the founder and CEO of the New York City Leadership Center. In that capacity he also helped found the inaugural Movement Day conference in New York City (in cooperation with Tim Keller’s Redeemer City to City and the Concerts of Prayer Greater New York). The conference was a gathering of missional leaders in New York, to cast vison and strategize together which later helped the Evangelical community have a tangible¬†effect on the city.

In A Disruptive Gospel, Pier  shares his passion for disrupting cities and transforpier_disruptivegospel_wSpine.inddming them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He tells the story of his ministry in New York City, the formation of the first Movement Day and how the fruit of that endeavor led to an impact on the city through service with organizations like  Cityserve New York. Pier also shares the story of Movement Day Dallas and how it led to initiatives welcoming Millennials into the church and greater racial reconciliation among the churches. After discussing these American cities he examines similar movements around the globe  (places like Manila, Mumbai, Chennai, Dubai, Singapore, Port-au-Prince, Pretoria and Kigali, London, Gothenburg and Berlin).

Several convictions guide Pier’s work and analysis. First, following Rodney Stark and Wayne Meeks, he believes cities are strategic centers for mission and the proliferation of the gospel(43-44). Second, the thinking behind the inter-church gatherings like Movement Day stem from a convictions that “the vibrancy of the gospel in any city is proportionate to the depth of relationship and visible unity between [Christian] leaders in that same city”(53). Third, Pier operates on the premise that whenever there is a new move of God, anywhere, God raises up leaders to lead that movement.

This book suffers from the range of cities which Pier¬† attempts to cover‚ÄĒthirteen¬† different cities. The book is only 236 pages, so¬†Pier, by necessity, ¬†speaks in broad generalities.¬† I learned about some cool gatherings around the world of missional leaders, and Pier boils each chapter to a couple of pages of “what [each] story teaches us.” But the overall effect is pretty vague. There is not much here in the way of practical strategy.

I¬† also have questions about¬†Pier’s premise that mission and ministry begins with the leaders and influencers, instead of the marginalized, the little and the least. Leadership is valuable, but you can gather Christian and marketplace leaders and still fail to intersect the needs of the poor. When I read here about how New York city leaders endeavored to respond to the needs of Port-Au-Prince through organizations like World Vision (170), I think of the reality on the ground and how well meaning Americans and large organizations often fail to meet the tangible needs of Haitians. (To be fair, Haitian church leaders were also included in their vision casting, and I personally support World Vision for their thoughtful approach to mission and relief work). Pier’s approach feels too top down to me. Perhaps this is effective and they are making a real impact, but the sparse details makes me skeptical.

However, I¬†do appreciate the focus on cities and there are initiatives, city-wide actions and missional ventures that are worth getting excited about. I just didn’t feel like I got enough of the details. I give this book two-and-a-half stars. ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ¬Ĺ

Note: I received this book from Baker Books in exchange for my honest review.

I am Evangelical and So Can You!

Trump won and about 81% of white evangelicals helped make that reality. Translation: people who look like me, who share some of my cherished religious beliefs helped put Donald Trump in the White House. This is despite the fact he  was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, his locker-room talk normalized sexual assault, he is currently on trial for fraud, he fat-shamed a beauty pageant contestant, and admitted to going into dressing rooms while contestants were naked. Despite the fact he made fun of people with disabilities and let us not forget about the wall. He ran on a platform of xenophobia, promising to protect us from refugees, devout Muslims, bad hombre Mexicans and other widows, orphans and aliens in the land.

81% of evangelicals. Sigh. I’ve heard ¬†progressive-minded evangelicals, disavow their evangelicalism in the wake of Tuesday’s results. It makes sense. It is easier to stop being evangelical than it is to stop being white or male (61% of white males voted for Trump and 63% of white women). Leaders who denounced Bill Clinton for his moral lapses overlooked Donald John Trump’s. Some for pragmatic reasons (i.e. Supreme Court appointments, pro-life concerns), others¬†out of¬†disdain for Hillary Clinton. I am part of the 19% of white evangelicals which voted the other way. I did so because Trump’s platform, tone and substance struck me as antithetical to¬†the gospel,¬†even if he gave lip-service to faith and pro-life concerns.¬†Hitting a few Christian coalition talking points doesn’t transfer to a Christlike policy.

frabz-you-keep-using-that-word-i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-c96affSo what does being an evangelical actually mean?

The word evangelical is so often, poorly defined. If you ask the mainstream media or the faculty of your local university, you may get the impression that evangelicals are just nicer versions of fundamentalists. Evangelicals may not¬†boycott military funerals,¬†hold up “God Hates Fags” protest signs like Westboro Baptist church or blow-up abortion clinics; yet some think they¬†are cut from the same cloth. Others see ‘evangelical’ as ¬†political speak for being ardently Pro-life and anti-LGBTQ rights. ¬†And yes, the majority of evangelicals uphold traditional marriage definitions and the sanctity of life. None of this gets at the heart of what it means to be an evangelical.

At its heart, evangelicalism is a commitment to the ‘good news.’ (őĶŠĹźőĪő≥ő≥ő≠őĽőĻőŅőĹ). This means both the good news about Jesus (John 3:16-17), and the good news¬†he preached, “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). The Kingdom good news was Jesus’ major theme. He announced God’s reign had come and was coming. Implicit in this was a call to live lives which reflect Christ’s reign and reconciliation: ¬†a right relationship with God, with neighbors and enemies, and with all creation. The good news of Jesus¬†meant good news for poor folks, freedom for prisoners, sight for the blind, and justice for the oppressed:

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†to proclaim the year of the Lord‚Äôs favor.‚ÄĚ

20¬†Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21¬†He began by saying to them, ‚ÄúToday this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.‚ÄĚ (Luke 4:16:21)

It is commitment to good news which provides the identifying marks of evangelicalism. Can you claim to be good news people and capitulate to hate and fear-mongering? Can you follow the one who tore down the dividing wall of hostility and advocate building a wall?

I am Evangelical and So Can You!

I call myself an evangelical because I believe in Jesus’ good news. Not just a little. I am sold out on it,¬†trusting in Him for salvation and wanting to see his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.¬†I won’t give up the label ‘evangelical’ because the good news¬†of Jesus Christ‚ÄĒhis life, death & resurrection, his compassionate actions and challenging words‚ÄĒhas shaped and is shaping who I am. I believe the Kingdom of God has come and is coming.¬†My trust in¬†Jesus marks me as¬†speak_the_truth_even_if_your_voice_shakes_poster-r94702277266b4e28acece46e4bc383b0_w2y_8byvr_512a good news person.¬†Can we call ourselves evangelicals if we have no good news¬†right now for the frightened, disenfranchised, ¬†the poor, the widowed, the alien and the orphaned?

My tribe didn’t vote the way I voted in this past election. Friends and family voted for Trump, some of them quite happily.¬†Here is the thing: many on the margins are now frightened by the prospect of a Trump presidency. If you call yourself an evangelical, embrace it. Evangelical ¬†become what you are! Because it is¬†good news time!¬†How are you bringing good news to the¬†high school senior who is¬†afraid president Trump will deport her undocumented parents? ¬†What good news do you have for¬†Muslim immigrants who now find this nation less hospitable? How about victims of sexual assault traumatized by this entire election cycle? People of color who fear Trump’s support of stop and frisks? The working man who is afraid he ¬†will lose healthcare for his family when¬†Obamacare gets repealed? It is over. Trump won (had Clinton won we would still be in desperate need of good news). Now is the time to¬†bear¬†good news¬†to those who are struggling.

Half the nation celebrates, the other half mourns, the margins fear. What good news do you have for them? If you voted for Trump or Clinton, or Johnson or Stein there is room at the table.  Good news, people good news. Bring good news!