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Scandal? (continued from previous article)

1995This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

IV. The Religious Right

Let's pursue this in terms of politics. Evangelicals in America have recently re-emerged into the political sphere on a grassroots level, but not as the individuals who provide the intellectual basis for politics. Why don't we have evangelical public intellectuals providing that kind of force for conservative politics?

Mouw: One reason is that we do not have a theology of public life yet. So in the political sphere, we went from unthinking noninvolvement to unthinking involvement, which translated into the triumphalistic takeover mentality that we find in many active evangelical political movements today. They are not guided by careful theological reflection.

We do have public spokespersons like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, but they really haven't thought these issues through theologically. The result is that the theological basis for what their political followers have advocated has been at best minimal and at worst perverse.

How then should evangelicals be engaged politically? Are Christian political groups wrong for fighting abortion, homosexuality, and immorality?

Mouw: All of these issues are important. My theology of homosexuality, abortion, and sexual immorality is the same as many in the Christian Right. But I am wary of the arrogant and unrepentant spirit that I see in some of these organizations.

Christians should remember that one of the reasons the culture is in such bad shape sexually is that we failed in the past to address the issues in a positive, biblical way and instead fostered a sexually oppressive subculture. We did not treat the sexual sinner well. We have not done a good job at manifesting a healthy, self-critical, repentant attitude toward our actions. We have treated homosexuals ...

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