Since our first editorial in 1956, we’ve promised that “Christianity Today will apply the biblical revelation to the contemporary social crisis, by presenting the implications of the total gospel message for every area of life.” That is a much deeper vocation than simply promising to give a yes or no to every policy proposal or to issue a verdict in every theological dispute. Polemics and arguments are useful, but they’re specialized tools.
I was reminded of this while listening to a recent episode of our podcast Quick to Listen. I’ll admit that I started the episode, on El Salvador, wondering what it would say about changing US immigration policy—and whether I’d agree. Instead, it prompted me to meditate on Scripture. The guest, Asbury Seminary’s Stephen Offutt, mentioned in passing that Salvadoran pastors encourage congregants to pay “rent” to the local gangs, citing Jesus’ “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” It was alarming, but it got me thinking about the scandal of Caesar’s reign, the power of Jesus’ answer, and my own relationship to Caesars I’d rather resist than recognize.
We trust you’ll have a similar experience in reading our cover story on surrogacy. As you’ll see in Kate Shellnutt’s report, evangelical Christians are not of one mind on the ethics of one woman carrying in her womb another couple’s baby. Some believe this is nothing less than a vocation from God. Others believe it a violation of the sanctity of life and marriage. For the most part, though, Protestants haven’t given this practice as much biblical thinking as it deserves. This story is our attempt to start a larger conversation about this “area of life” that is rapidly accelerating. And our attempt to drive you deeper into prayer and Scripture as you ponder what God wants you to do with your body.
We could, no doubt, fill every issue of CT with newly emerging topics and “contemporary social crises” like these that require deeper biblical thinking about “the implications of the total gospel message.” But the “Today” in our name is about more than breaking hot topics. See, for example, this issue’s article on heartfelt, passionate prayers for God’s intervention in the world. As that first CT editorial put it, “revival as the answer to national problems may seem to be an oversimplified solution to a distressingly complex situation, Nevertheless . . . the basic solution to the world crisis is theological.”
This remains our conviction. We want every CT article to explore both capital letters in our name: Christianity’s “implications of the total gospel message” and today’s “every area of life.” No topic is off limits. And no issue is so complex that its answers are not ultimately found in the God of the Bible.
Ted Olsen is Editorial Director of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TedOlsen.