Evangelical Churches Are Torn About Admitting Refugees to the U.S.

Image via Muhammad Hamed / REUTERS / RNS

Evangelicals may be united that the Bible is the ultimate source of authority, but they are divided on how the Bible would lead us to respond to the growing crisis of refugees fleeing from Syria.

What is the best way to show Christian love and compassion? How is the church’s role different from the state’s? How do we show wisdom and prudence in securing the safety of our neighbors and nation?

These are just a few of the questions that evangelicals are grappling with. One evangelical pastor today told me, “My church members are all over the place on this!”

Evangelical Progressives: A Public Theology of Community

When it comes to institutions aligned with evangelical progressivism it is not as easy to say “there it is” but when it comes to people, one can point directly at Jim Wallis. While I’m not convinced many Christians who seek to influence the state have an explicit teleology, an activist commitment to influence forms the heart of both the evangelical right and evangelical left. (By teleology I mean to ask this question: What will happen if they “win” the influence? Will it turn into a kind of Constantinianism? Or is there an unexpressed assumption that they won’t win?

Here's How Progressive Evangelicals Can Win Back Millennials

When I was 15, I stepped into a warm bath on my church's sanctuary stage. I was a bit of an outsider - the occasionally bullied Chinese-American kid in the white suburb - and I had found a place of belonging at this Chinese immigrant church. I made a joke about how I felt the same way about my new faith as my 16-year-old friend felt about her new driver's license: I had no idea how I ever lived without this. Even my pastor chuckled as he clasped my hands, preparing to dunk me.

Crossing the Globe in Search of Authentic ​Evangelicalism

pio3 / Shutterstock.com

pio3 / Shutterstock.com

The center of Christianity has dramatically shifted, and that means the agenda was very different from the northern and western agendas of the older white evangelicals in America and the issues they think most important. Korea could play a particular and convening role as a bridge between the churches of the global north and south.

In sharp and grateful contrast to the old ideologies of global North evangelicals, these global South evangelicals spent their time together wrestling with issues of global economic inequality, the realities of climate change, the imperatives of racial justice, and the need for Christians to wage peace instead of war. Since these are the issues that global evangelical and Pentecostal constituencies are facing in their own lives — and of course, the Bible addresses all of them as the central issues Christians need to confront today — the narrow, white American evangelical agenda had no interest in this global evangelical and Pentecostal forum. The fact is that they represent a different evangelical world.

Between Two Cultures: How to Be Evangelical Without Evangelizing

'Jesus Saves' sign in Toronto. Image courtesy Atomazul/shutterstock.com

'Jesus Saves' sign in Toronto. Image courtesy Atomazul/shutterstock.com

I occupy a strange place between cultures. Not the international cultures of my childhood spent as a missionary kid living around the world, but between two sub-cultures here in modern America. I am a rare breed of evangelical that doesn’t live in a bubble of Christian culture. Quite the opposite. I live and work in higher education, and — mark it — secular higher ed.

An evangelical acquaintance once asked me delicately, “Is there a reason you and your husband don’t work at a Christian university?”

I could hear the gears in his head as he tried to reconcile what he saw before him: two highly educated, devout Christians working in the "liberal bastion" of a secular college. Why on earth would we do such a thing to ourselves?

The truth is, Dwayne and I live and thrive in the place we’ve carved out outside the bubble of American evangelicalism. It’s not that we don’t love the evangelical church, or don’t attend an evangelical congregation.

It’s just that we don’t identify with all aspects of the American version of evangelicalism.

He and I both came to know Jesus outside the States. We are both missionary kids. In addition, Dwayne is Canadian. As a result, we have an outsider’s perspective. For us, living in America and being evangelical poses an interesting paradox.

In so many ways, living and working with people who have vastly different life experiences than our own feels normal. After all, that’s how we grew up — in the company of friends whose worldviews are shaped by the submerged iceberg of cultures not our own. These differences don’t threaten our beliefs. Ironically, holding the space for the lived experiences of our friends creates an environment that also affirms our lived experiences, and more importantly, our faith.

Q&A: Rachel Held Evans on the Ills of American Christianity and Leaving Evangelicalism

Rachel Held Evans. Image via Rachel Held Evans / RNS

Rachel Held Evans. Image via Rachel Held Evans / RNS

Rachel Held Evans has grown into a powerful voice in American Christianity, first as the author of Evolving in Monkey Town and later with the New York Times best-seller A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Those who follow her writings often note that her thinking has become increasingly progressive, especially on hot-button theological issues such as gender and sexuality. That shift culminated in her leaving evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church.

Next month, Evans will release Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church, a book that oscillates between stinging critiques of American Christianity and prescriptions for how she believes believers can more faithfully participate in church life. In an interview with Religion News Service, she talked about the key to revitalizing the church and defended her exit from evangelicalism. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: You say that the way to stop the exodus of millennials from churches isn’t cosmetic changes like better music, sleeker logos, and more relevant programming. Why are these methods ineffective?

A: These aren’t inherently bad strategies, and some churches would be wise to employ them. But many church leaders make the mistake of thinking millennials are shallow consumers who are leaving church because they aren’t being entertained. I think our reasons for leaving church are more complicated, more related to social changes and deep questions of faith than worship style or image.

If you try to woo us back with skinny jeans and coffee shops, it may actually backfire. Millennials have finely tuned B.S. meters that can detect when someone’s just trying to sell us something. We’re not looking for a hipper Christianity. We’re looking for a truer Christianity.

Q: If these aren’t the answer, what is?