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quovadisQUO VADIS EVANGELICALISM

 
Dear Friends
 
Many of us have real concerns about the huge support given to the Donald Trump campaign in the USA elections by White Americans who self-identify as “Evangelical Christians”. Not only the serious moral and character flaws of Donald Trump, but large chunks of his policy statements on foreign and domestic policy and economic priorities, run counter to the Gospel. This is, of course, not to imply that there weren’t also plenty of problematic issues in Hilary Clinton’s campaign platform and character as well.
 
There does appear to be a cultural captivity at work in American Evangelicalism, that implies a whole lot of political allegiances as well. For many this makes the label “Evangelical” really problematic, not only for Americans, but in other sectors of the world as well. It is hard to make the distinction that the British and South African streams of Evangelicalism are very different from the American variety, when the term has now become so loaded with negative political connotations.
 
That said, Evangelical Christianity, particularly within the Anglican tradition, has a rich history from Cranmer, through Wesley (who remained Anglican despite opposition to his methods from large parts of the clerical establishment), Wilberforce, Shaftsbury, John Stott, Jim Packer, David Watson, to Graham Cray and Nicky Gumbel in our time. The evangel refers to the Gospel and characterizes a theological stance which emphasises personal salvation through faith in the completed work of Christ upon the Cross, and which takes Scripture as the authoritative guide on all matters of faith, practice and morals.
 
This has always meant that there is a counter-cultural element about Evangelicals. We don’t sit easy with a lot of the neo-liberal stress on inclusivism, secularism, political correctness, and moral relativism; yet we also don’t sit easy with politics of self-interest, xenophobia, aggression, disregard for minorities and the poor, and so forth.
 
Despite the current difficulties associated with the title and the fact that it has been deeply compromised by its cultural and political captivity in large parts of the USA and beyond, I still want to hold to what is best in the name “Evangelical”. It is the tradition that has nurtured and shaped my faith, as it has that of Christ Church and the St. John’s Parish.  It speaks to me of the warmth and devotion of hearts surrendered at the foot of the Cross and regenerated by the Holy Spirit; it speaks to me of a faith-enlivening commitment to reading, understanding and applying the Scriptures; it speaks to me of engaged and heart-felt worship; it speaks to me of a Gospel desire to reach out with the Good News of Jesus and it speaks to me of a passionate concern to champion the coming of the Kingdom of God in all sectors of society. Evangelicalism has profoundly shaped my understanding of theology, spirituality and mission, so I have a deep fidelity to what it means at its best.
 
St John’s parish and Christ Church takes its stand on questions of faith and ethics in line with the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials, which is, in large measure, an expression of Evangelical convictions. Whatever may have occurred in the US presidential campaign, or on any other front of world or domestic politics, I see no reason to uncouple from the beliefs set out in that declaration.
 
I don’t think this is a time for us shame-facedly to slink away from the label “Evangelical”, but to reclaim it and redeem it. Of course it will always be offensive those with a political agenda to secularize society and impose what can be called “the totalitarianism of liberalism”. To be Evangelical means we will take issue with many aspects of postmodern political correctness, but we will also take issue with any conservative agenda aimed at preserving the inequalities embedded in the status quo. Seeking to live out a Biblical, and specifically New Testament ethic, will always put us at variance to the assumptions and practices of our culture. To be an Evangelical should never be a comfortable or mainstream thing!
 
I am not going to let Donald Trump rob me of all that!

Blessings
Rob
 

Taryn Galloway, 17/11/2016

 
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Christ Church Kenilworth  |  Cnr Summerley & Richmond Road  |  Tel: +27 (021) 797 6332  | E-mail: reception@cck.org.za
Service Times: Sunday Worship  8.00am, 10.00am & 6.30pm  |  Wednesday Service: 10am   | Thursday Refresh: 9.15am

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