Monday, May 21, 2007

new breed of Evangelicals?

Many people are talking about this article in today's New York Times, and I suppose it's for a good reason: with the death of Jerry Falwell, it's now hard for the main-stream media to point out someone as the face of Evangelicalism. Billy Graham is someone the MSM has recognized in the past, but he seems to be less mentioned the older he gets. Billy's son Franklin has obtained some prominence, especially in regards to his work with Samaritan's Purse, but he has nowhere near the star power his father once had. Pat Robertson, who thought seriously about seeking the presidency in 1988, has been ignored by most people in the Evangelical community.

Nowadays, the MSM looks at pastors of megachurches and authors on best-seller lists:
Typified by megachurch pastors like the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and the Rev. Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, the new breed of evangelical leaders — often to the dismay of those who came before them — are more likely to speak out about more liberal causes like AIDS, Darfur, poverty and global warming than controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. But the conservative legacy of the religious right persists, and abortion continues to be a defining issue, even a litmus test, for most evangelicals, including younger ones, according to interviews and survey data.

Are these people advancing causes like AIDS, Darfur and poverty because the Bible commands to be concerned about such issues? Or are they doing so because they want to seem cool and progressive?

Not everyone, of course, believes that the political arena is the best place to live out the Christian faith.
Gabe Lyons, 32, is emblematic of the transformation among many younger evangelicals. He grew up in Lynchburg, Va., attending Mr. Falwell’s church. But he has shied away from politics. Instead, he heads the Fermi Project, a loose “collective” dedicated to teaching evangelicals to shape culture through other means, including media and the arts.

“I believe politics just isn’t as important to younger evangelicals as it has been for the older generations because we recognize from experience that politics does not shape the morality of a culture,” he said. “It simply reflects what the larger culture wants.”

What the article doesn't mention is what the main goal of Evangelicalism should be: the preaching of the Gospel. The radical idea that Jesus, God in the flesh, came to seek and save those who are lost.

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