The editorial I referenced in a recent post is now available online. It is Philip Yancey’s last CT column (for the foreseeable future anyway), after 26 years of writing for the magazine.
The piece is short but potent. A taste of “O, Evangelicos!”:
As I survey evangelicalism I see much good, but also much room for improvement. Our history includes disunityhow many different denominations do this magazine’s readers represent?and a past that includes lapses in ethics and judgment. We have brought energy to faith, but also division. We celebrate the transformation of individuals, but often fall short in our larger goal of transforming society.
It saddens me to hear the media’s caricature of evangelicals as right-wing zealots. The word means “good news,” and I have seen that message broadcast in creative, practical ways in over 50 countries. But I can see where the media get their stereotypes. I have a folder of scorching e-mails circulated by evangelicals during the 2008 presidential election, and a more recent collection fanning fears over proposals for health-care reform. These supplement a larger folder on gay issues. Evangelicals haven’t always found a way to combine loving acts with a loving spirit.
In one encouraging trend, the fundamentalist-social gospel divide that marked the church a century ago has long since disappeared. Now evangelical organizations lead the way in such efforts as relief and development, microcredit, HIV/AIDS ministries, and outreach to sex workers. I have visited thriving ministries among the garbage dump communities outside Manila, Cairo, and Guatemala City. Evangelicals have taken seriously Jesus’ call to care for “the least of these.”
I recently heard from a friend who visited a barrio in São Paulo, Brazil. He grew nervous as he noticed the foot soldiers of drug lords standing guard holding automatic weapons. They were glowering at him, a gringo invading their turf. “Then the chief drug lord of that neighborhood noticed my T-shirt, which had the logo of a local Pentecostal church. He broke out in a big smile: ‘O, evangelicos!’ he called out, giving us hugs. Over the years, that church had cared for the children of the barrio, and now we were joyfully welcomed.”
Some of my friends believe we should abandon the word evangelical. I do not. I simply yearn for us to live up to the meaning of our name.
Read the whole thing.