Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. One of the leading moral voices in American Christianity, he is the author or editor of 21 books, including Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics (with a new 2nd edition coming out in June 2016), The Sacredness of Human Life, Changing Our Mind, and Evangelical Ethics. His next book, aiming to help Christians think about American public life, is called Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends. It will be out in Fall 2016. Dr. Gushee is the recently elected Vice-President of the American Academy of Religion and President-Elect of the Society of Christian Ethics. He blogs twice weekly at Religion News Service, and serves on the boards of Sojourners and the Center for Victims of Torture. He has lectured on six continents. Professor Gushee, a husband, dad, and grandfather, lives in Atlanta with his family.
Posts By This Author
When Religion Makes People Worse
As a wizened old veteran of the fight, I struggle with discouragement sometimes. It is not just that many Christians fail to live up to the clear demands of Christian discipleship. It’s that we can’t even agree on what those demands are. We all say we believe in Jesus, but what we make of that belief is so irreconcilably different that I am not sure that we are in any meaningful way members of the same religious community.
4 Ways Trump Reminds Me of Popular Preachers
Many observers are wondering how exactly Donald Trump is winning so much “evangelical” Christian support. Leaving aside definitional quibbles about the meaning of the term “evangelical,” why is this uber-worldly candidate doing so well among this segment of voters?
Are You One of These 4 Types of Evangelicals?
Many people are mystified by “evangelicals.” It’s a word the average nonreligious person doesn’t often hear in the U.S. — except for when it is time to nominate another GOP presidential candidate. Then we hear about who those millions of “evangelicals” are supporting, always under the assumption that all evangelicals are into politics and all will support a Republican.
As an evangelical myself, this is just one of the many misunderstandings of evangelicals that drive me up the wall. It’s a problem I’ve tried to address in several of my books, most recently Evangelical Ethics (Westminster John Knox Press).
Let me take another brief crack at it here. I want to propose that there are four different kinds of evangelicals, or evangelicalism, yielding four very different results.
Seven Things Preachers Need to Say About Syria
The Syrian crisis is escalating in unnerving ways with the arrival of Russian troops and the beginning of direct Russian military intervention. What had been a local and regional humanitarian disaster now risks becoming a superpower confrontation between Russia and the United States. Undoubtedly the introduction of Russian firepower on the scene will bring more civilian suffering, dislocation, and death.
If I were looking for handles for prophetic preaching on the Syria situation, I might select the following.
Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Can Be Deadly
Some of this year’s crop of politicians tell us that illegal or undocumented immigrants pose a deadly threat to our country. I say that anti-immigrant rhetoric is the more dangerous threat. It has been deadly before, here and in other countries. It can easily become deadly again.
You can watch the rhetorical escalation up the ladder — or down the slippery slope, choose your metaphor — toward danger.
Step one: It is perfectly reasonable for those concerned about illegal immigration to express concern about our nation’s ability to secure its borders, especially from those who might pose a real threat. As one who regularly waits in lines to pass through border controls, I get it. In a nation-state world, borders matter. All nations attempt to secure their borders. The United States has a right and a need to secure its borders.
The Global Refugee Crisis Is a Moral Test for All of Us
Western claims to stand for human dignity and human rights usually look pretty hollow whenever a major refugee crisis hits. That is what is happening now, as millions of refugees seek asylum in Europe — and mainly run into closed doors and cold shoulders.
The current crisis is a grave one. According to Amanda Taub, 19 million people today are refugees. They come from all over, though today especially from Africa and the Middle East. Four million have fled Syria since 2011. They are making global headlines as they surge into Europe, which is for many just the latest stop on a desperate odyssey.
They are dying in disturbing numbers — in rickety boats, sealed trucks and squalid refugee dumping grounds. They are not wanted where they come from and not wanted where they are going.
Donald Trump and the Politics of White Male Anger
Donald Trump’s ongoing narrative about political correctness being “the big problem” in this country may help explain his surprising climb in this week’s presidential polls.
Billionaire Trump does not appear to have suffered too much on the personal front for having had to live in a more “PC” America.
But his message seems to resonate with (other) aggrieved white males, which may help to explain his rising popularity as a presidential candidate.
Trump said at the Cleveland GOP presidential debate that, “The big problem that this country has is being politically correct. … I frankly don’t have time for total political correctness, and to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore.”
Why Routine Divorce is Now Inevitable, Even Among Christians
A LifeWay Research survey released last week on the morality of divorce found that for most Americans, the reason an individual initiates divorce doesn’t matter in terms of how they morally evaluate the rightness or wrongness of that divorce. Pastors, though, still tend to draw moral distinctions between reasons for divorce.
Based on years of research on Christian tradition as it pertains to marriage and divorce, I can tell you what this finding means. The answer is not especially pretty: Routine divorce is now inevitable in American culture, including among religious people — with one possible exception.
Let’s take this problem apart.
Don’t Blame Planned Parenthood for Our Abortion Culture
I won’t pile on Dr. Nucatola. The video seems pretty disastrous for her and for Planned Parenthood.
I will pile on us. Us? Yes, we the people of the United States of America.
We are the ones who have created a society in which we have become utterly dependent on abortion.
We are the ones who choose every year to turn to abortion clinics and drugs to end one out of five healthy pregnancies.
We are the ones who keep having sex outside of committed and marital relationships — and thus risking an unwelcome pregnancy.
We are the ones who keep having sex without using contraceptives, even when they are readily available.
We are the ones who fight over the politics of abortion without doing much to reduce demand for abortion.
Why Civil Disobedience Is Irrelevant to Gay Marriage
Despite threats from some conservative Christian dissenters, civil disobedience may turn out to be an irrelevant response to gay marriage.
To understand why, we have to think seriously about what civil disobedience really is.
Here’s a good definition: If a government mandates what religious people believe God forbids, or forbids what religious people believe God mandates, civil disobedience may be required.
In the first case civil disobedience involves the refusal to do what government commands, and in the second case it involves the continued practice of an act that government has banned.
Could this apply to the new legalization of gay marriage nationwide?
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