ABORTION AND MARRIAGE ARE DEFINING ISSUES
Another common theme among Progressive Evangelicals like Wallis is the argument that the Religious Right only cares about fighting against homosexual marriage and abortion. Wallis wants Christians to broaden the scope to issues like global warming, justice, poverty, war and peace, racism, and many more issues. What Wallis offers is bigger government to solve these problems.
For example, Wallis suggests that some form of reparations should be issued to African-Americans because of slavery and racism of the past. No one disagrees on the horrendous things that whites did to blacks for too long in this country. He argues, "most of the slavery apology resolutions in the southern states are just that - apologies without reference to restitution" (164). He goes on to argue that "affirmative action" was never truly an effort to take national responsibility for racism (165).
His main argument here is that Americans have only apologized for our racist past but have not shown the fruits of repentance. I find this simply appalling. First, we did more than just apologize. Thanks to great and honorable men like President Abraham Lincoln, America not only apologized to slaves, but gave them the freedom that was rightly theirs. Blacks now had the same rights, for the most part, that whites had. Grant it, there remained a lot of racism above and below the Mason Dixon Line. However, restitution was laid by freeing slaves (which they more than deserved, it was their right) and after decades of more bigotry and hatred, other leaders gave restitution and repentance (not mere apology) to blacks by banning segregation laws.
If Wallis wants equality for both race and sex, then he will be consistent with that world view. To write suggesting reparations (though he may not want that) is not equality but stealing from one race to give to another what is not theirs. That is racism. Only the gospel can solve this issue. We are made in God's imagine. Therefore, whenever we see each other, regardless the race or sex, we see the image of God. And it is beautiful.
Again, government is not the answer, the gospel is the answer.
But though poverty and racism are critical issues, they are not primary issues. Why? As long as we are murdering our own children, we will never overcome racism, sexism, or poverty. Until we stop killing one another, how we treat one another doesn't make much of a difference. Until we learn to love everyone and give them the right to live, regardless of their age or handicap, we will never solve social problems within our nation.
Therefore, issues like abortion and homosexuality are primary issues.
But the solutions put forth by Wallis on these issues are nothing short of appalling. Wallis supports abortion reduction. Abortion reduction only adds to the problem, it does not solve it. Whenever one has a worldview that believes that all life is sacred, then limiting the number murdered in cold blood doesn't change a thing. Furthermore, at what point of reduction would Wallis and others like him be satisfied? If only a million were killed a year, would they be content? If only a thousand were killed a year, would they be content?
Abortion Reductionists argue that the reason for abortion is primarily due to socio-economic reasons. Therefore, they want to end poverty. No. We must first end the culture of death as a solution to our problems of socio-economics.
As for the issue of homosexuality, marriage defines a culture. To redefine marriage and sexuality are definitive issues. Marriage is a gospel issue. Not just because the Bible says that homosexuality, and other abominations, are wrong, but because marriage is to be a model of the gospel. Scripture is clear (see especially Eph. 5) that marriage is to reflect Christ's relationship with His Bride, the Church. Christ died for His Bride. So too, each spouse is to sacrifice for the other. Therefore to redefine marriage is a gospel issue.
I wish Wallis and others like him would embrace the cross and the message of the gospel and be consistent with that one and only Christian worldview, rather than lecture us as being distracted by just 2 issues writing them off as somehow equal to other issues. Marriage and murder are definitive issues.
Progressive Evangelicals like Wallis might offer answers, but the answers they offer are simply wrong.
Finally, Wallis is vehement in his call to solve the global warming crisis. Global warming has become a serious issues for Christians to think about and since the release of Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth," the issue has only become bigger. But Wallis is clear what he thinks about the issue: "Christians, especially ones associated with the term 'evangelical,' are part of the problem, not part of the solution." (139). So to Wallis, Christians are part of the problem, and rarely part of the solution when it comes to the issue of climate change.
But I have two major problems with Wallis' assessment and proposed solution to the problem.
First, despite what Wallis may claim, the debate isn't over. In fact, the debate is only getting more divisive. I find it funny that I happen to have read this book (which I only read because I am working on my thesis) we just recovered from one of the worse ice storms in Kentucky history, that one storm caused our church to cancel the first week and then have it in our basement the second week. Thousands of people did not have power for weeks due to ice.
The debate continues not just because it is the middle of winter but because the evidence remains inconclusive. Though Wallis writes: "there is little reasonable doubt left about the threat posed to the earth by global warming" (147). And yet, a number of scientist have come out giving seriously reasons for why to doubt the global warming argument not to mention the fact that the whole movement seems to be more about big government than solving problems.
Which leads to the second point. If Wallis is serious about solving this "crisis," then he should lead by example. Note the following text:
"The point [is] that slow incremental action to counter climate change is no longer enough, that only dramatic and transformational action will ow suffice." (150).
I am left scratching my head. Wallis is writing a book that requires "precious" resources from our planet, like trees which provide needed oxygen for us and takes in our carbon dioxide to survive thus benefits us in a number of ways, while lecturing us about using up those resources. Furthermore, this book is the result of the success of his previous book, "God's Politics." That book was a best seller which means more resources were used to print those books.
Also, Wallis speaks frequently, and proudly, that he has traveled around the country and even around the world lecturing, preaching, talking, participating, and listening to the country and the world. I am left wondering how huge his carbon footprint must be. I am willing to bet that the majority of people that read his books have a much smaller carbon footprint than Wallis and yet he is lecturing us about making "dramatic and transformational action" to solve this crisis?
How dramatic is he calling for? And will such action apply to him? Shouldn't he stop traveling and writing books? It is one thing to say we need to solve this crisis, it is another thing to be hypocritical as you call for solutions. Wallis' own words indite him and he should be ashamed of himself.
I personally doubt the reality of human caused global warming. I will not go into why. But regardless of what I believe, the hypocrisy I see among the fear-mongers regarding this issue cause me to doubt this "crisis" even more. If it is so serious, then why haven't they changed? Wallis might offer solutions, but apparently he doesn't think he should abide by them.
In light of all of this, and more, no wonder Christians aren't as involved in global warming as Wallis would like especially whenever we see the hypocrisy and true agenda of some global warming alarmist.
More could be said regarding Wallis and the global warming but we will not look into them here. Another one that should be mentioned is his bad hermeneutic. For the most part, whenever Wallis turns to Scripture (and this happens throughout the book) he takes verses out of context and completely misinterprets and misapplies them. One example is his use of Deu. 30:19. Also, though Wallis and his Emergent friends emphasize conversation, there is very little offered here.
My frustration with Emergent politics is clearly made evident in this two part series. Persons like Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and Brian McLaren represent a growing problem in postmodern Christianity. In hopes of being relevant, they become irrelevant. They care more about the culture and opinion polls than the gospel.
Regarding "The Great Awakening," do not be fooled. Wallis, in the end, does not offer a way out of the left vs. right debate, he only complicates it. If Wallis really cared about the gospel and the Kingdom of God, as he claims, then he would proclaim it from the roof tops, like those who lead previous Great Awakenings before him, and let the politics happen as ramification. Let's begin with the soul, and then we'll work on society.
"Jesus Christ paid a price he did not owe because we owe a price that we cannot pay." Let that be the anthem of the New Great Awakening and let us stay away from the "remedies" proposed by Wallis.