David Gushee & Centrist Evangelicalism, Part 1
Church-State expert Melissa Rogers has written two must read blog posts.
In the first post - Baptists and Other Evangelicals - Rogers responds to a quote from David Gushee in a recent ABP article. Gushee declared that:
"Most moderate Baptists are center or center-left evangelicals, they just don't know it,' Gushee said. 'I want to help moderate Baptists reclaim the term 'evangelical' and re-associate with other evangelicals who are kindred spirits, if they only knew it.'"And Rogers responds:
I agree that Baptists are well-served when we re-connect with other evangelicals where those connections have frayed (and when we establish new connections). I'm attending Ron Sider's upcoming conference for precisely that reason. We have a good deal in common with those who not only share our faith but who also stand firm against partisan spins on the gospel, political power plays (both inside and outside religious circles), and take-no-prisoner tactics and attitudes. We can easily fold into some of the efforts of these kinds of non-Baptist evangelicals, and it would be a good thing if we did so.
But I also think it's important for Baptists to articulate our own voices on some public issues. Why? Because I believe our voices are in some ways distinctive from the voices of non-Baptist evangelicals. For example, Baptists traditionally have been careful to defend both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. The work of the Baptist Joint Committee is the best example of that commitment. Our commitment in this area hasn't been limited to working on church-state issues, however. Rather, it has influenced the ways in which we talk about our engagement in public issues as a general matter. It also has led us to encourage policy solutions in other areas (say, for example, in overcoming poverty) that attack problems in effective ways without engaging the government in promoting or subsidizing religious activities. Some other evangelicals do these things as well, but it's a real marker of traditional Baptists, and I think this kind of perspective can make a valuable contribution to our current conversation about religion's role in American society.
In the second post, Rogers offers snippets from Gushee's latest op-ed on "centrist evangelicalism" and then provides a few interesting thoughts. Check it out.
Last week, I wrote a post about this so-called "Emerging Evangelical Center" of which Gushee champions. Needless to say, I'm skeptical (read the post). Over the next week or two, I will blog more about this "New Evangelicalism" as I read through Gushee's new book, The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center.