I recently was reading the story of a former evangelical Christian, profiled by Tony Kriz in his new book,Neighbors and Wise Men.After growing up in a small, insular expression of the faith, he discovered a wider world outside it. In particular, this passionate believer discovered an environmental movement that spoke to his soul while his church home ridiculed the environmentalists. So, he switched his allegiances: "The Christian church has no coherent answer for earth care. And for that reason I now know I could never be a Christian."
Initially, this remark angered me. The evangelical movement has more than a few dissenters from the typical attitude toward environmentalism. They could have saved this man's faith. But as I gained some sympathy, I realized that the man's apostasy illustrates our need for faithful dissenters, insiders who stay true to the movement while critiquing its failures. These dissenters add diversity and show us new ways to be faithful followers of Christ.
It wasn't too long ago—when political evangelicalism was loud, and its hypocrisy easy to see—that I, immature and ignorant, wanted to lodge my own critiques against the church.
A faithful dissenter
Thankfully I discovered Ed Dobson, the faithful dissenter who voiced my own critiques while remaining inside the evangelical fold. Dobson was formerly a board member of the Moral Majority, a spokesperson for Jerry Falwell, and a vice president at Liberty University. Dobson had since become a successful pastor, leading a megachurch in Grand Rapids, and he remained a powerful voice in the pulpit and in his books. He was named "Pastor of the Year" by Moody Bible Institute. Dobson was an evangelical of ...