“There’s no disputing the fact that evangelicals feel burned by their ineffective intimacy with the Republican Party and are increasingly convinced that church and politics shouldn’t have such an intertwined relationship. Evangelicals young and old are not retreating or switching parties, but they’re carefully weighing their involvement and attempting to bring it into conformity with an all-encompassing commitment to their theology.”
They at once say “church and politics shouldn’t have such an intertwined relationship,” and that they are “carefully weighing their involvement and attempting to bring it into conformity with an all-encompassing commitment to their theology.”
So, which is it? Does cultic confession imply cultural conclusion, or not? Much as he may move “toward the light,” the American religionist simply cannot fight against his religio-cultural DNA that tells him his religion must imply his culture, that his cultural conclusions must “conform to his theology.” But what the doctrine of the Atonement has to do with state’s right or democracy seems less obvious than many imagine.
This reminds me of a CRC minister chastising both James Dobson and Jim Wallis yet also wanting to maintain his own Kuyperian transformationalism. The problem is that the former groups are simply applying the latter’s operating principle that “the Gospel has an obvious bearing on and implication for temporal purposes.” Ask enough questions and it becomes fairly clear that his problem with Dobson and Wallis is the same one Erasmus had with the medieval church, over against Luther: you are not doing it very well. But Luther’s point was that the problem was doctrinal, or theoretical, in the first place. Dobson’s problem isn’t his obnoxiousness, and Wallis’s problem isn’t his self-righteousness, much as they both tend to exude such things. The problem is their assumption that the Gospel has one ounce of anything to do with ordering society.
Put another way, the problem with the TV preacher is not his crassness or his being uncouth, etc. His problem is his theology. Turn down the decibels on Benny Hinn and you get Rick Warren. Turn down Warren’s decibels and you get your garden variety Evangelicalism when it tells you, in one socially acceptable way or another, the point is to be happy, healthy and whole.