The topic of this month's cover story has been a topic of conversation among CT editors for years. We've had our share of contributors who see Christianity Today as a vehicle to present a respectable evangelicalism. Other writers want to use CT to scold evangelicals whenever they embarrass us in public. So, yes, we've had to wrestle with the cover story's thesis time and again. But we're ready to move on.
A movement that casts anxious glances to see how it's doing in the eyes of others is in either childhood or adolescence. It's either anxious to please authority figures, or fears the disapproval of peers. In both cases, it's not yet acting like an adult. It's time for evangelicals to put away childish things. I hope the cover story ("They Like You") goes a long way in both bolstering our sagging self-esteem and giving us confidence to act like adults.
Adult here means people who know their calling and spend their energy fulfilling it. They don't worry about what people think, nor do they take constant readings of how they are doing. Periodic feedback and reflection, of course—we do want the gospel to be heard. But enough already.
The fact is that in the end, people don't care if we are cool. They don't think it an improvement to call ourselves "Jesus followers" instead of "Christians," let alone "evangelicals." They don't care that we sing hymns. They don't mind if we wear skinny ties or long dresses or teetotal. What people care about is whether they are loved. By God. And by others.
The question we want to debate in this hallway and these pages is not, "Are we making a good impression?" but, "How can we love the people for whom Jesus died?"
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Next month: The 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Issue: Russell Moore on memory and forgiveness; J. Dudley Woodberry on how missions to Muslims have changed in the past decade; and Andrew White, the "Vicar of Baghdad," on how Christians can relate to Muslims in the coming decade.
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See our cover story on "Americans Like Evangelicals After All" and check back for more articles from the August issue.
Additional Christianity Today coverage of evangelicalism includes:
Polling Evangelical Leaders | Both unanimity and diversity emerge in a recent poll of the Lausanne delegates. (July 25, 2011)
The New (Evangelical) Mainline | American evangelicalism is displacing the old mainline. How do we keep from suffering the same fate? (May 12, 2009)
Inventing Evangelicalism | No one was more pivotal to the emerging movement than carl F.H. Henry. (March 1, 2004)
Christianity Today: Evangelism's "Big Tent" | Video: Christian leaders comment on Christianity Today's role as a forum for evangelical thought.
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