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Recently I fell into the role of chronicler of evangelical compromise. This can be a rather dispiriting occupation. For years, many of us did not want to acknowledge the weeds worming their way into our once carefully tended gardens. We are dismayed now to find them overrun. But where can we have forthright discussions about how to identify invasive species and root them out? Our own institutions are proving less than hospitable to the task.

Many of the faculties and mastheads of elite evangelical institutions are filled with academics who have already joined the league of pagans in all but name. It isn’t intellectually serious, they say, to still believe such things as “thou shalt not” and “thy will be done.” And those who haven’t yet donned their rainbow apparel have gone quiet about the most elemental moral questions of our faith. They tell the faithful that they must now “actively reexamine” such issues as biblical teaching about sexuality “in light of tradition, interpretation, history, and science.”

Meanwhile, plenty of ministry leaders wish all this cultural accommodationism away. But not enough to confront old friends who are compromising with secular society. If you fail to remain respectable, your picture might not appear among the list of speakers at the next evangelism and discipleship conference. 

Thankfully, evangelicals eager for more bracing and candid discourse have found themselves sheltered in these pages among a motley ecumenical crew. Our customs and creeds may vary, but we share a belief in God's providence and a conviction that religion belongs in the public square—and the knowledge that the hour has grown far too late for respectable ambiguity about our views.

First Things remains relevant by focusing on the eternal, not the fashionable. It is not merely conservative, but sound. In these pages, wit abounds, and the ironic detachment that so often passes for humor today is in blessedly short supply. This magazine reminds readers that the genuine intellectual provokes with truth rather than novelty. And it does this with great courage.

I’m grateful that there is still a space for such unembarrassed religious thought. So I ask you to give generously to the First Things spring campaign. And buy a friend a gift subscription so that more would-be gardeners find their way to these pages.

Megan Basham is a culture reporter for the Daily Wire.

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Image by The U.S. National Archives on Picryl licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped. 

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