President Lyndon Johnson’s language was often sprinkled with phrases other than biblical ones, but one of his favorite expressions did come from the prophet Isaiah. “Come, let us reason together,” Johnson would intone, and friend and foe alike soon learned to check their wallets. It meant he was about to work them over with his legendary political charms.

But it is hard to imagine a more appropriate phrase for today. Evangelicals need to look across the no-man’s land of today’s culture war and issue a call to our adversaries: “Come, let us reason together.”

I’m not advocating surrender or a sellout to Satan, as one Christian radio host put it when she heard me express these views. I am suggesting that we must engage in sane, civil discourse before it’s too late. For in the wake of the murder of Pensacola abortionist Davis Gunn, the culture war may not be mere metaphor much longer.

For decades, the two armies in this culture war have coexisted, more or less peacefully. On one side are those who believe in absolute truth; on the other, those who believe tolerance, not truth, is society’s ultimate virtue. It has been a societal Cold War, the two sides parrying, engaging in occasional name-calling, but never unleashing their arsenals at one another.

But now the big guns are booming.

Since Pensacola, the media have lumped together mainstream evangelical Christians with the Muslim fanatics who bombed the World Trade Center, insane cultists in Waco, and even Serbian butchers. They are all “religious fundamentalists,” the most reviled term in the modern vocabulary.

Under this assault, understandable frustration mounts on the Religious Right. But it is a dangerously short step from frustration to fanaticism.

Some believers talk as though ...

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