Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matt. 5:13). Thiswell-known and oft-quoted verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the locus of my blog article today. I am deeply saddened by the landscape of Evangelicalism engagement with the culture today.
For many Evangelicals this above-mentioned proposition never, or if viewed in the most charitable fashion, seldom moves beyond being abstract in nature. When the rubber hits the road, many Evangelicals shrink back into the background. When the issue of economic fallout is broached our banter quickly falls in line with the cultural demands.
I can readily recount prominent professing Evangelicals capitulate to the culture when opposition is raised when some biblical principle is espoused. The late football great, Reggie White, quickly apologized for his statement at a State Assembly meeting in 1998. Among the statements he felt necessary to walk back included, ” homosexuality is ”one of the biggest sins” in the Bible and he said that he was ”offended” by gay and lesbian groups that compared their struggle for civil rights to the struggles of African-Americans.”
More contemporary to our time is Drew Brees who quickly disassociated himself from his support of Focus on the Family’s ministry outreach, Bring Your Bible To School Day. Brees was quickly criticized because of the biblical principles Focus on the Family holds on marriage, life and gender. Three of the hotbed topics in our land today. Lest there be any attempt to accuse me of cherry picking my understanding of the issue let me share Bree’s own response. In response to the criticism he took for support of the event he replied, “Unfortunately, Christian organizations out there that are involved in that kind of thing and to me that is totally against what being a Christian is all about,” Brees said. “Being a Christian is love, it’s forgiveness, it’s respecting all, it’s accepting all.”
News flash: being a faithful Evangelical necessarily involves taking a stance “for” some things while at the same time being “against” other things. Refer back to the Biblical passage that begins this blog article. The imagery of salt would have been well understood in the culture of when the Bible was written as it is still understood today. Salt is a preservative. It keeps things from decaying, it is a vital nutrient necessary for life. When it loses it chemical composition it is as the Bible purports “good for nothing.”
Similarly, when Evangelicals lose their chemical composition (spiritual composition) we become “good for nothing.” No good to our self, no good to society, no good to the Church and certainly no good to Christ? Brees recklessly embraces the world’s concept of love. He, along with the world, sees the greatest societal aim as love, to the neglect of other vitally important aims such as holiness and righteousness. Whereas the Bible rises holiness to the highest degree Brees places his secular concept of love as the chief human good.
Drew Brees does not represent an accurate understanding of Orthodox Evangelicalism. He, like so many others with an outsized platform, capitulates at the first sign of public outcry. I will not begin to attempt to ascertain what may be the motives of Bree’s decision. That is left to God alone as only He can read the human heart. My job as an Evangelical is only to judge a person’s word and deeds. Brees did not account himself well when the world sought to “squeeze” him into their mold.
Even more recent in this human experience has been the China controversy began when the of the National Basketball Association (NBA) team Houston Rockets general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted a support of Hong Kong in relationship to their political conflict with China. Morey’s tweet set off a firestorm in the international community and has spawned reverberations throughout the economic, political as well as athletic communities.
The NBA, under the leadership of its commissioner, Adam Silver, has prided themselves on the embrace of social engagement. Silver lent his support of the LBGT by marching (prominently in the front lines) in their parade in NY. Lebron James has leveraged his considerable weight as a public figure to social issues like the Me-Too movement.
Yet when economic factors began to jeopardize James’ bottom line he took to social media and condemned Morey for being “misinformed.” While I take issue with the theology of Martin Luther King Jr. I do acknowledge from time to time he espoused views that were consistent with a proper Evangelical worldview. In fact, James quoted MLK when James said on the eve of a King celebration, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. … If injustice exists anywhere, it is a negative force and is harmful even to places where justice currently exists.”
This sentiment is squarely borne out of a Christian worldview. Darwin falsely believed in survival of the fittest. Many people and tragically, even professing Evangelicals, unwittingly adopt what can be coined “Social Darwinism.” Yet, the Christian worldview correctly understands every human being as being endowed with intrinsic value from conception all the way to natural death. The only arbiter on when life ultimately begins and ultimately ends is God and Him alone!
No temporal factor such as money overrides or status stands supreme to this understanding of human dignity. That is, unless you embrace the worldview of one Lebron James. He has shoes and merchandise to sell and there are lot of individuals in China who James want to buy his shoes and the other merchandise associated with James. This is one of the chief reasons why I never embraced the Black Lives Matter theology that James and so many others inconsistently embraced (if BLM really matter then if that worldview is consistently applied all infant black life in the womb would qualify, especially for people who professed to be an Evangelical).
It is laughable how James and other NBA figures hide behind the cop-out “they are not qualified to speak” on matters relating to human rights atrocities committed by the Chinese government but feel they are eminently qualified to speak about social and moral matters here in America. One does not have to be an advanced student of history to understand China is a totalitarian regime that is guilty of some of the most heinous civil rights injustices toward their own countrymen in our lifetime.
Where is this reticence when they speak out in support of same-sex marriage, abortion and gender? What qualifies James to be a spokesman in one case but not the other. It is suspicious that when one impairs his economic ability (he does not speak) and the when the other does not (he does not hesitate to speak). This is reminiscence of Michael Jordan’s refusal to lend support to Harvey Gant when he ran for the Senate against Jesse Helms. Jordan retorted, “Republicans buy shoes too” as his justification for not entering the political discussion. It was cowardice then by Jordan and it is cowardice by James and others today. Cowardice, because Jordan chose to not speak, not because he was opposed to Gant or even because he chose to support Helm. He was cowardice because he refused to enter the fray because money and status trumped civic responsibility.
One may wonder why I interject James into this dialogue. I can, with almost certainly, posit that Lebron James would claim a Christian identity. Heck, most Americans will posit identification as Christians. Every major Democratic Presidential candidate posits faith as a Christian. I believe only one member of Congress is officially listed as an atheist.
I know for certain James is not Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist. He has no problem speaking and weighing in on moral issues like police violence and bigotry of influential people like former L.A. Clippers basketball owner, Donald Sterling. I believe it is safe to place James and others who espouse their worldview into the “Cultural Christianity” camp. He is neither confessional or convictional. He embraces the most radical rejection of a Judeo-Christian worldview.
It is time that Evangelicals get off their hind parts and get engaged in the battle. I have no time for the sentiment that politics, religion and sex are not fair game in the marketplace of ideas (Evangelicals are commanded to bring every thought captive to Christ). I have no time for Evangelicals who naively embrace what is regarded as freedom of assembly but not freedom of expression. If we relinquish our right to have a voice in the marketplace we will be soon regarded as irrelevant. We must concede we may still be marked as irrelevant. Outcomes are outside of our jurisdiction. We are held accountable by our Creator for only being his solvent agent upon the Earth. What the great potentate of the universe decrees is left exclusively up to Him.
When we live with conviction we can be assured Christ will meet us in that great day with salutations of “Well Done.” This side of the River Jordan will be filled with fraught and peril. There will defeats, rejections and scorn. For some there may be even worse but that is what we signed up for: WORSE!
We were not promised a bed of ease. We were told to pick up our instrument of death and carry it daily. I do so in small ways that do not always seem significant, but I do so with the promise if I remain faithful, He is more than able to do exceedingly more than I can think or imagine! He and He alone is worthy of any potential ill treatment that may arise in this life.
Let me know what you think about the need to be a Convictional Christian in this day and age. We may not agree on the some of the finer points, but I trust we will always agree on the sum of any theological quest: Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the only hope for yesterday, today and forever more.
Keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One!