Thursday, September 18, 2008

What Really Is An Evangelical Christian?

It's tempting to get into mini-debates with people right now, especially given our overly charged political atmosphere.

In fact, that tends to be the source of the controversy, what with possibly the first ever African-American president, a unknown and arguably untested Alaskan governor as possibly the first female vice president (should the AA candidate lose), possibly the oldest ever man to be sworn in as president (should the AA candidate lose), and a highly charged media and electorate which will only get worse, in my opinion, should the AA candidate lose.

Yes, I'm voting for Sen. Barack Obama.

And I don't mind saying so.

What I do mind, which is occuring with greater frequency, is being challenged in my support of him because I'm a Christian.

Why not challenge me because I'm a woman? Should I have supported Hillary or should I now flip over to the McCain-Palin ticket?

Who says that all Christians are or should be Republicans? I'm sick to death of hearing about the religious right, the evangelical right, or whatever they're being called these days.

Don't get me started on Dr. James Dobson or a host of others who have offered so much invaluable information and comfort to long as they stay within their callings and out of the political arena. Again, just my humble opinion.

But wait! In many ways, I could be categorized as an evangelical Christian, although I am decidedly more center than most of the representatives of evangelical Christianity seen or heard regularly on the airwaves or Internet today.

Is that possible?

Well, yes it is. In my heart of hearts, I believe there are more Christians like me than like them, the people who I would call not "evangelical" but "fundamentalist". We're just less vocal and we need to start speaking up!

See evangelical Christianity has to do with having a personal relationship with Christ that begins with being "born again". I believe in that. It also has to do with "going out into the highways and by-ways" to tell of the goodness of Jesus. I believe in that too. It has to do with believing the Bible is the infallible, inspired Word of God. I believe that. And finally, it has to do with believing in the death and resurrection of Christ, and that He will come again. I believe that.

These are the things that make someone an evangelical Christian. After that, trust me, the waters get pretty muddy. Visit a Southern Baptist church vs. a Pentecostal one vs. a Lutheran vs. a non-denominational. The rest is either man-made church doctrine, which may or may not be Biblically-based, or personal interpretation of the Scriptures.

I think my pastor's wives card is about to be revoked.

Christianity has never been a religion about exclusion. Christ's grace is available to all who believe on Him as the Savior of the world, who confess that belief with their mouths, and who repent of their sins. Don't believe me? Start with the popular John 3:16,
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Then read Romans 10:5-12 Here's a portion:
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
I'm saddened by just how much foolishness is attributed to Christians and just how much some Christians try to hold their chosen brand of Christianity up as the Christian faith. The rest of us are supposedly non-believers or delusional, at best.

The Bible, that infallible source, warns us about judging others. This would include judging the faith of others.

It also says, in Romans 12:3,
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
This admonishment causes me to pray for others who seem to feel they are the arbiters of the Christian faith.

I won't win any awards for this post and I may very alienate a lot of people who I would hope one day might purchase and read my Christian fiction novels, some of whom I've gotten to know and I on the many writing-related blogs I frequent.

Now I know why my mother used to admonish us to never talk about religion, politics, or money in "polite" company. Chances are the conversation will be anything but polite.

Peace & Blessings,


Chicki said...

Preach, sister, preach!

I'm sick and tired of Christians, particularly black Christians who act as if abortiona and homosexuality are the only biblical issues involved in this or any election. The Bible talks ten times more about taking care of the poor, the hungry, and the disenfrancished than it does about either abortion or homosexuality. How can these people go with a party that claims to be "God's party" but ignores the biblical mandates to care for these people.

I've had it. The Republicans had eight years to show me what they think of people who aren't white, rich or educated. I'M DONE!

Patricia W. said...

I'm in the middle of a week-long, thought-provoking discussion with a McCain supporter, going back and forth over the issue of abortion. It's actually been very polite and quite interesting, although we'll never see eye to eye, I suspect.

But he's just one of many who truly feel that there is something somehow less Christian about people who don't share their views. I find that sad more than anything.

Bernard said...

Excellent points. Saddly enough no one will say it, but if we look at the make-up of Evangelical Christians we see they are made up of majority white church goers. Minority church goers are normally not assumed or categorized as Evangelical Christians. But it speaks to a broader baseline issue that is never addressed properly or challenged.....Racism in the Church.
That racism is the baseline of this identity then it moves to literal convenient interpretation of the bible verus the "Gospel of Grace".
We live under grace not the law. Many Evangelical Christians love Jesus Christ but want people to live under the law. Abortion and related right/left political regilous issues it seems they view from "behind the veil". Thus Obama's race and understanding of Grace makes him a "suspect Christian" in thier eyes. Although the bible says "judge ye not".

Angela said...

Thank you so much for this post. That's all I can say.

Ty said...

Wow! I just found your blog and I could not AGREE more.

I agree with some of the things "evangelicals" support. But don't put no label on me because I'm a Christian. I'm walking with Christ as the head and he came to banish legalism and establish grace.

You can't take on issues that really boil down to someone's FREE WILL and then make that THE ISSUE to focus on. Not in this day and age. I do believe Jesus called us to take care of the poor, widows and orphans. Our economy and healthcare are in crisis mode where regular working class people struggle from paycheck to paycheck. That simply should not be.

Don't get me started on the war thing either. Using FEAR tactics, when God says you should not have a spirit of FEAR. I don't even listen to the news sometimes or listen to other folks because I'm wondering are we reading the same bible or what?

Whew. I said a mouthful. LOL! I will be back to check out your blog!

Patricia W. said...

Thanks for stopping by Angela and Ty!