Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Post Partisan - Interdependents

I'd like to homogenize some themes I've read about this morning. First - here's more information about young "Evangelical" Christians who want to work past traditional conservative political issues (abortion, gay rights) in order to respond to other issues such as the poor economy, environmental problems, and the War in Iraq. Amy Archibald says:

"I think it's a new movement starting," said Amy Archibald, 19, a sophomore at the evangelical school. "Most of us would never blindly follow the old Christian Right anymore. James Dobson has nothing to do with us. A lot of us are taking apart the issues, and thinking, 'OK, well, [none of the candidates] fits what I'm looking for exactly.' But if you're going to vote, you've got to take your pros with your cons."
Miss Archibald may be representative of 15% of white evangelicals between 18 and 29 who say they no longer identify with the Republican Party. I'd imagine that a significant number of those young adults would not identify with any official political party. There are, as Shane Claiborne, suggests interested in voting for Jesus. Claiborne says:"It’s easy to have political views—that’s what politicians do. But it’s much harder to embody a political
alternative—that’s what saints do.".

There is a broader group of Christian Evangelicals who apparently desire to emerge out of political ideologies and return to what they believe are the truest roots of Jesus Christ' gospel. These evangelical Christians have released a manifesto that every Christian should read. (The .pdf file is available here). There's a section of the manifest that particularly caught my attention:
"Evangelical means an ongoing commitment to Jesus Christ, and this entails innovation, renewal, reformation, and entrepreneurial dynamism, for everything in every age is subject to assessment in the light of Jesus and his Word. The Evangelical principle is therefore a call to self-examination, reflection, and a willingness to be corrected and to change whenever necessary. At the same time, far from being advocates of today’s nihilistic “change for change’s sake,” to be Evangelical is to recognize the primacy of the authority of Scripture, which points us to Jesus, and so to see the need to conserve a form behind all re-form.

We therefore regard reason and faith as allies rather than enemies, and find no contradiction between head and heart, between being fully faithful on the one hand, and fully intellectually critical and contemporary on the other. Thus Evangelicals part company with reactionaries by being both reforming and innovative, but they also part company with modern progressives by challenging the ideal of the-newer-the-truer and the-latest-is-greatest and by conserving what is true and right and good."
My reading of this particular portion of the manifest invites me into a conversation with such professed evangelical Christians because it provides linkages between scripture, tradition, and reason that are constitutive to my Anglican Christian identity. I don't concur with other portions of the manifesto but that's not the point. The key for me is that there's an interdependent opportunity for greater mutual understanding and communion in these statements.

There's just so much political, conflictive, ideological conflict going on right now. Obama vs. Clinton, Democrat vs. Republican, Evangelical versus Liberal I totally identify with the left. I'm not sure I could ever be a centrist, post-partisan Christian. I admit though that I need to pay close attention to the Archibalds and Claibornes of the world because they are telling me and other organized religious Christians that our conflicts about ideological issues are outmoded and irrelevant. I think they are telling me that there's room and a need for us to work past socio-religious classifications and constituent issues to get Jesus' work done. I don't know if they have listened to older Christian people like me talk about our pain and struggles, our old crap. I would like to think that once we have listened to one another we would agree that Christian unity is more important that uniformity. I'd like to think that once we went out with one another and worked with some inner city kids we'd agree that communion is more important than conformity. I'd like to think we'd just surrender to Jesus, let it go and live into his gospel as best as we could. Those efforts feel like the domain of God that Jesus talked about as he walked around in this world.

Blessings Along the Way,