(Tim) This is written by a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. Thinking readers might have some responses, I post it here. I've received it second or third hand, so I don't know the writer or context.
While recognizing that some people have a calling from God to speak out specifically on these sins, I find that the focus among many Evangelicals on the abortion and same-sex marriage issues to the exclusion of all others reflects the extreme individualism of Protestant theology and ethics, both "conservative" and "liberal". Evangelicals care rightly about the killing that goes on within a woman's womb, and about the improper and irreverent use of our God-given sexual organs in our own bodies or in the bodies of others. But there is not always a corresponding concern about the killing and grave threats to human life that are present outside of the womb, and about the improper and irreverent use of the natural world and material possessions given to us by God.
I don't think it's an accident that the same individualistic faith traditions that emphasize and sanctify "my personal choice" (to accept Jesus as "personal Savior" in the case of conservative Protestants, to have an abortion as a "personal matter" in the case of the liberals) but downplay the physical unity and continuity of the Body of Christ across space and time would also be quite uncertain regarding the social obligations that Christians have to their political and military enemies, to the poor and sick among us, and to the rest of God's creation. A faith tradition that fails to connect our moral obligations inside our bodies with our moral obligations outside of our bodies is deficient in both its anthropology and its ecology.
To get things started, it seems to me evangelicals are now close to the heart of the movement for the social justice of cutting carbon emissions, calling for the government to increase funds for AIDS research, and shaming people who litter. Rick Warren, anyone? Brian McLaren? Rob Bell up there in Grand Rapids? Inter-Varsity? Zondervan? Navigators? Willow Creek? Tim Keller and his flock?
And of course, every last prof at Covenant and Taylor and Gordon and Westmont and Wheaton.
Maybe our critic is only speaking of historic evangelicalism--not the classic liberalism that's taken over these past few decades.
But then he has an entirely different problem...
Namely, that historic evangelicals are the ones to thank for most of the opposition to oppression and carrying out social reforms the world has ever known. Speaking as the son of one of the more prominent leaders of evangelicalism in the last half of the twentieth century, back in the fifties and sixties our home was characterized by personal involvement in opposing racism, taking in stray children, giving sacrificially for literacy work in the poorest parts of the world, and the list goes on. Compassion?
Well, for years prior to Dad's death, Dad and Mud held a weekly Bible study at the local poverty nursing home where a group of friendless old people awaited them each week--their feeding of the Word but also of cake and cookies and drinks and visits and outings.
My father-in-law, too, was one of the more prominent leaders within evangelicalism and his entire wealth (quite considerable) went to the poor around the world. I would be embarrassed (or proud) to put up here a pic of the car he owned when he died.
And Doug Wilson's dad--also one of the leaders of late twentieth century evangelicalism? What a servant's heart he has still today as he comes to the end of his life and, giving up most of his ministry to the strays downtown in Moscow, Idaho, stays home to care for his wife of umpteen years.
Thing is, these men and their beloved wives never promoted themselves as advocates of social justice. They never sold themselves as the true keepers of racial equity and environmentalism. Unlike those blabbermouths, Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Rick Warren, they were humble and quiet and efficient. So their reward is in Heaven.
But I did think you should know about them.
This is not even to mention that ultimate act of compassion, proclaiming the Gospel to the lost, calling them to repent and believe for the forgiveness of sins.
One final comment. Read Paul Johnson's Intellectuals and you'll find that the trait common to the greatest names among intellectuals in the past couple of centuries was their promoting themselves as possessing and working for the love of mankind while despising and treating with cruelty those particular souls they lived with and among--their wives, particularly; but also their maids and siblings and children. Get the book and read it if you want to know what men are like who claim to be the keepers of the flame for social justice and racial reconciliation and healing the earth.