This August, I’m thrilled to announce that the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will be hosting its second annual national conference, in Nashville on August 5, on the issue of The Gospel and Politics.
This is an important topic, because I am convinced that what we need is a gospel-focused reenergizing of politics. American evangelicals are, sometimes frantically, trying to adjust to an increasingly post-Christian America. We can no longer pretend that we are a “moral majority,” sharing “values” with the American mainstream. In a quest to differentiate themselves from the activism of previous generations, some younger evangelicals wish to retreat into a libertarian cultural isolationism, and some wish to adjust to the ambient culture.
Those who wish to retreat are wrong. Pulling back from politics or cultural engagement is the wrong approach. What we need is actually a kingdom-focused revitalizing of politics. Many have rightly grown cynical of movements that are willing to identify with gospel heretics as long as they check the right political boxes. They are disenchanted with movements that seem more content to vaporize opponents with sound-bytes rather than to engage in a long-term strategy of providing a theology of gospel-focused action in the public square.
But we must engage the culture. The question is why and how. We engage politically because we love our neighbors; we care about human flourishing. And we do so on multiple fronts. We engage on Capitol Hill on issues ranging from stopping the abortion industry, to protecting religious liberty, to speaking out for human rights for the persecuted overseas. We also cultivate churches that see the holistic nature of the kingdom of God and who shape the consciences of people to live as citizens. But we always do that with the mindset that we are ultimately seeking to point people to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
That means that we speak and we vote and we mobilize, but we don’t do so as gloomy pessimists, continually wringing our hands or crying conspiracy. And we don’t do it as naïve utopians, believing we can organize our way back to a golden era. We do it as those who weep for those around us who are being sifted by the darkness. We do it as those who are cheerily marching to Zion, knowing that whatever the short-term setbacks, we are on the winning side of history.
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SOURCE: Moore to the Point
Russell Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.