Polarization is like powerful magnets placed throughout our ideological spectrum. They pull us apart and clump us into tribes. We have a hard time breaking away from the magnetic security of being with like-minded people, who reinforce our like-mindedness. Efforts to move toward others must labor against that pull.
For this reason, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and World Relief have published a short sign-on statement of repentance, renewal, and resolve. It is based on the 2004 NAE document For the Health of the Nation, an evangelical call to civic responsibility and a guide for public leadership.
The statement focuses on eight broad issues of moral importance that are rooted in biblical convictions: protecting religious freedom, safeguarding the sanctity of life, strengthening families, seeking justice for the poor and vulnerable, preserving human rights, pursuing racial justice, restraining violence, and caring for God’s creation.
These issues do not exhaust the concerns of faith or government, but they illustrate a breadth of commitments in which evangelicals can engage in common action.
We are in a season in which the evangelical faith is being narrowly defined and misunderstood by many, with long-term ramifications for our gospel witness. We seek to present a thoughtful, humble, biblically grounded statement of our identity that we pray will function as a light shining on a hill to a watching world, to the glory of our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16).
These biblical values unite us across denominational, geographic, ethnic, and partisan divides. Too many, especially young people and people of color, have been alienated by the evangelical Christianity they have seen presented in public in recent years, and they may rightly wonder if there is a home for them in evangelicalism. We have an opportunity to reaffirm with conviction and clarity that our tradition is rooted in fidelity to Christ and his kingdom values.
In rallying around these principles, we will also show those outside the church that evangelicalism is not defined by politics. Rather, we are motivated by love for God and our neighbor.
We invite Christians to join us in affirming this statement. Now is the time to promote faithful, evangelical, civic engagement and a biblically balanced agenda as we seek to commit to the biblical call to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.
Walter Kim is president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Speaking Out is Christianity Today’s guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the publication.
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