Christianity Today Press Items
This very helpful book grew out of a nine-month conversation among six politically diverse Christians at Respectful Conversation.net. The convener, Heie, summarizes it here, taking up in turn a series of contentious issues ranging from immigration, gun control, and abortion to a variety of foreign policy questions, noting where there is common ground and where there are sharp differences. The six participants—Amy E. Black, Paul Brink, David P. Gushee, Lisa Sharon Harper, Stephen V. Monsma, and Eric Teetsel—model the overarching commitment to "respectful conversation" even as they disagree.
CT has noted other Christian figures who have announced cancer diagnoses, including popular author Margaret Feinberg and Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis. Philosopher Dallas Willard revealed his diagnosis with stage 4 cancer in a tweet in May; he died just days later. Christian singer-songwriter Darlene Zschech recently revealed she has started chemo treatments for breast cancer as well.
It’s a tired trope that evangelicals only recently began caring about “social justice,” a buzzword that carries connotations of political activism and “the social gospel.” In fact, orthodox Christians have long recognized in Scripture a call to defend and uphold the dignity and well being of all persons, especially the poor and powerless. Take, for example, John Wesley, who led prison reform and abolitionists movements in 18th-century England. More recently, evangelical leaders like Ron Sider and Jim Wallis have promoted Christian engagement in anti-war, environmental, and immigration causes, while facing suspicion of falling prey to partisan politics. At the local church level, sex trafficking, fair trade, and clean water campaigns are trendy ways today for lay Christians to fight social ills, even if that means simply clicking a “Like” button.
As a sophomore at Calvin College, I began hearing a refrain from classmates who had shed their evangelical heritage like a bulky fur coat at the start of spring. "Evangelicals only care about abortion and gay marriage," they sighed, parroting headlines of the time. It was 2004, and the "values vote" had apparently secured George W. Bush's reelection. We rushed to show that no, really, we cared about poverty and social justice too (unaware that Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, and others had been saying this since before we existed).
Yet my heart for social justice has led me into enduring friendship with progressive Christian communities as well. With non-denominational churches and urban gospel ones, with Sojourners and Red Letter Christians and a stream of social-justice minded people who have offered me equal good in the name of Christ. I have written for them, invested in them, worked among them, and believed among them as well. I love how they live and practice the Bible.
Just before the 2004 election, Jim Wallis and Sojourners conducted a high-profile campaign to liberate Christian activism from enslavement to political parties. Their ad campaign cum petition headlined "God is not a Republican … or a Democrat" gained 40,000 signatures. Immediately after the election, Wallis attacked the media identification of Christians with the Republican Party in his book God's Politics.
Along with the National Association of Evangelicals, the Catholic bishops, Sojourners, Bread for the World, etc., Evangelicals for Social Action and I were—and are!—enthusiastic participants in the Circle of Protection. That group protected tens of billions of dollars from being cut for important poverty programs like food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
During an hour-long meeting on Friday, President Barack Obama told religious leaders that he hopes Congress will approve a comprehensive immigration reform bill within the next several months.
A notable coalition of Christian leaders is urging the federal government to avoid allowing "hungry and poor people" to fall through the cracks as spending cuts, scheduled to start Friday, could force the reconsideration of funds for certain welfare programs.
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:
“A bipartisan group of Senators has spoken: No legislation can be called immigration reform without a roadmap to citizenship. Creating a just and compassionate immigration system that meets the needs of the 21st century won’t happen overnight and it won’t be easy. For years the faith community has been calling for change, and we will be watching every step of the way to ensure that families are protected and the dignity of every one of God’s children is respected. We expect and demand nothing less. For us, this isn’t just a matter of politics, but one of faith and obedience to Jesus’ call in Matthew 25 for his followers to ‘welcome the stranger.’”