FAQ 23: Why do you sometimes seem to be bashing evangelicals?
That isn't our intention at all. Indeed, the Anabaptist Network core convictions that we affirm are broadly evangelical in character - http://www.anabaptistnetwork.com/coreconvictions
Ekklesia has staff, associates and many supporters from (among others) the evangelical tradition – which actually covers a wide spectrum of belief and practice, contrary to the impression created by some lobby groups.
In practical terms: We have given positive coverage to evangelicals who have taken a stand on social justice, the environment, peacemaking, and equalities. We have cooperated in a small way with Sojourners in the USA, and we welcome the ‘Red Letter Christians’ initiative, which emphasises a broad approach to biblical values. We are pleased to be a partner of the Speak network, an evangelical social justice network among UK students. We support Accepting Evangelicals, which affirms the place of LGBT people in the church. We have enjoyed a dialogue with Faithworks in the UK, though we have different outlooks on some key issues. Back in 2006/7 we sought to provide a way forward in recent arguments between evangelical Christian Unions in universities and campus student bodies.
Unfortunately some evangelical campaigning groups have taken what many see as a negative or confrontational approach to issues like the Equality Act Sexual Orientation Regulations (which we support), Jerry Springer The Opera (which we defended), assisted dying (a morally and practically complex dilemma) and other social and cultural questions.
In the USA and elsewhere, the organised ‘religious right’, often claiming the label ‘evangelical’ for itself, has dominated the public sphere with an agenda based on what some have called ‘a war theology’. It has also backed campaigns – recently mirrored in the UK – to force creationism and its cousin Intelligent Design (which we believe to be theologically as well as scientifically incoherent) into the classroom.
Many evangelicals, as well as Christians of other persuasions, are saddened and disturbed by this, and have welcomed Ekklesia’s space for different voices. Not all evangelicals are anti-gay, for example, and a growing number challenge the ‘orthodoxy’ of the movement’s leaders on violent and retributive theories of atonement – an issue we tackled in the book Consuming Passion: why the killling of Jesus really matters (Darton, Longman & Todd: 2005).
See also http://brianmclaren.net/archives/books/brians-books/a-generous-orth.html, for a book which reflects the impulses and perspectives of those who are variously called progressive evangelicals, postconservative evangelicals, post-evangelicals, younger evangelicals, liberal evangelicals, and/or left evangelicals.
Ekklesia seeks to be fair, constructively critical and affirmative toward Christians from all traditions - and our own contributors cover a wide spectrum of belief and practice, as well as engaging those of other faith, or of 'good faith' but no religious belief.
Finally, as Menno Simons once observed: "True evangelical faith... clothes the naked... feeds the hungry... serves those who harm it. It binds up that which is wounded."
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